Never been a big fan of birthdays or naming a desired gift. Somewhat of a personal carryover from growing up without many material items and watching my mom provide as best she could from paycheck to paycheck along with limited help from government and occasional help from family members. My siblings and I weren’t raised on the ilk of “closed mouths don’t get fed” but more of “show humility and dignity about yourself and be thankful for what you have”. Neither philosophy is wrong and both have their benefits. We just knew if we wanted more we had to work for it.
On this birthday, I’ll be begging that you feed me- my soul. To do this my first ask is that you please write my son, Andrew Platt.
Andrew lives in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. He’s served 12 years of a 75 years sentence for armed robbery. You can go here to read more about his case from the perspective of the State of Louisiana. His address is:
Mr. Andrew K. Platt #509383
Louisiana State Penitentiary
Angola, LA 70712
Andrew and I met when I lived in Shreveport, Louisiana while serving at Barksdale Air Force Base. He was one of many players on one of my AAU basketball teams. His life circumstances were some of the toughest I had come across. After I got out of the Air Force in 1997 and moved to Fort Collins, CO to work for HP, some parents on the teams and adults in Andrew’s life felt that he would benefit from my discipline and structure as well as being out of the corrosive environment he was living in in the “Bottoms” of Shreveport. His father gave parental guardianship to me on October 1, 1997 so Andrew could join me in Colorado.
That lasted just over a year before he pushed hard enough and my patience and parenting skills were weak enough to send him back to Shreveport. He made great leaps in so many parts of his life. Academically he was above a “B” average in a more rigorous curriculum. He was able to order at a sit-down restaurant, understand basic table manners, display common etiquette, and gained self-confidence to achieve no matter the place, setting, or challenge. That didn’t change him being a product of his environment and me being an immature parent of a teenager with my own strict regiment from my life growing up in and surviving life in the projects.
After back in Shreveport, Andrew would transition from the homes he previously lived. A family who also was on the basketball team I coached in Shreveport and who helped facilitate his move to Colorado was in touch with him on occasion and attempted to assist where possible. Unfortunately, Andrew would eventually go to foster care. He remained in foster care until graduating high school, emancipating and going to college at University of Louisiana-Monroe.
I was able to travel to Louisiana to spend time with him while he was in college. I’d later learn from a different old basketball family Andrew had left college and was back in Shreveport. He spent a quick time in the US Army and even had a chance to spend a day with my mom while he was at Basic Training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC. But he would have an early exit. Some point later, I’d learn he was in jail.
You writing Andrew will help reduce the feeling of isolation and boost his morale from not focusing on the norms of caustic life in prison. It also helps him to have a view on life beyond prison. I believe he won’t serve that unjust sentence and when he gets out it’s important that he can connect with “reality” beyond the prison cells. And it helps boost his cause when evaluation is done regarding his readiness to leave. A post card, a joke, a few sentences, a few questions, pictures, a newspaper article, a complaint about me, or anything you choose to write is appreciated.
My next ask is more of an ask to and admonishment of myself. Talk about your personal and family encounters with law enforcement and corrections. A black person in jail is often as much a statement of America’s legal, education, and health systems as it is a about the action that resulted in the arrest. We have to talk about the ridiculousness of a bail system that forces jail time because people are poor versus guilty. Talk about a system that looks at black children and encourage school suspension, labels of learning disabled and emotionally handicapped, and fast-tracks to a regiment of government punishment without due resources to address underlying struggles, hunger, and family conditions which were directly created by government policy and laws. Talk about discrepancy in sentencing, in charges brought, in searches of property, in property seizure, in stops by officers, in recommended charges by probation and parole.
None of these things would change the fact that Andrew knowingly conspired with others to fake as if there was a threat of a fast food restaurant being robbed at gun point by an unknown robber (Andrew). He’s guilty of that and respects that he’s to be accountable for that crime. However, 75 years is a life sentence. A sentence all too often given to the poor, black, and brown so the injustice system can ensure there’s a population to provide profit with the industrial prison complex.
Please help me make sure Andrew’s name isn’t forgotten. Don’t let him just be prisoner #509383. Thanks in advance for the birthday gift.