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Wayne's Story

My name is Wayne A Lane, and I was born in Merced, California, and raised in Los Angeles. 

At the age of 13, my mom sent me to Boston, MA, to get me away from all the gang violence in L.A., but upon arriving in Boston, busing and violence were a part of my adolescent life! The trauma I experienced early on in my life was a factor that led to my incarceration in the State of Texas at 19 years of age. After serving four years of a ten-year sentence, a year later, I was sentenced to 35 years in Angola State Prison in Louisiana. 

I was in Angola from 1985 to 2002, a relatively short sentence compared to most people incarcerated in Angola, serving life sentences or life-like numbers. At that time, Angola was classified as the bloodiest prison in the United States. (The documentary The Farm describes Angola, but it doesn’t show the violence.) I witnessed rapes, assaults, murders regularly! The everyday trauma is real. The prison has 32 dormitories in the main prison, with 65-85 people in each dormitory. 80% of the population that's sentenced to Angola will die there!

While incarcerated, I picked cotton for many years and didn’t realize at the time how degrading it really was. All that work my ancestors did, I did that in prison: we picked vegetables, cotton, and broom corn during the hot summer months for 10-12 hours a day. I remember working on a Sunday because I got extra duty for going to the chow-hall for extra food. I had to work 7 days a week for 2 months. I looked at my hands and they were a bloody mess, filled with calluses! I couldn’t understand, I definitely knew, the punishment didn’t fit the crime!

My time in prison made me the person I am now. Angola was a very dangerous environment, and I feel very blessed I came  home with my sanity and good physical health. I tried to treat people well and intervene and help as much as possible. I participated in different Sociology and Psychology groups, and I was good to people all the time. I’ve always had a love for people, and I always keep my word, even while I was incarcerated. I love my people and I love everybody. I think Angola built that - seeing so much physical harm and trauma made me a different human being. 

I was in Angola for 18 years. I came to Boston trying to figure out how I’d maintain my freedom. I was able to take the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) class through the Career Center, and have gained meaningful employment to accomplish this feat! I wish I had been able to go to school while in prison, but it was all about survival. I was paid 4 cents an hour for many years, and knew, once released I could handle my responsibilities. Obtaining my CDL has provided me so much.  Thanks to the fourteen years I’ve been a member of Teamsters Local 25, I have a pension to look forward to upon my retirement and good health benefits. I’ve become a proud homeowner in Randolph, Ma.

My most proudest accomplishment since being released was my completion of parole, March 28, 2020 after 17 ½ years, where the system tried to send me back to prison every step of the way! There were many hurdles I had to overcome! 

I took a semester course on Human Services, which got me involved in activism. In addition to Inside the Sun, I’ve worked with Families for Justice as Healing (FJAH), Old Oak Dojo, Brother’s Healing Circle, and New Beginnings Reentry Services Trauma-Informed Support Group, and have been modeling my life by the principles of forgiveness and reconciliation taught in the 6-month Values Over Violence course offered through my church. These programs have helped me really settle down and see my vision of teaching and helping people to obtain their CDL. I am regularly involved in doing court support, attending parole and court hearings, contributing letters and spoken testimony on people’s behalf, and speaking with college students. I am in constant communication with guys at Norfolk, and help people navigate through the parole system. 

When I left prison, I promised I would reach back, and supporting people to get the CDL is a way of reaching back. Obtaining my CDL made the biggest difference in my life moving forward, and for this reason, I’m really excited about the Keep on Trucking program, which will help afford the formerly incarcerated and other people this same opportunity. 

The most important thing to me is my word: being honest, maintaining my integrity, and being who I am. I continue to keep the everyday focus and let the Spirits guide me. Especially with a supportive and loving team, the sky's the limit and we can go places by giving back and helping people not as fortunate. I treat everybody with respect, and I love everybody with the understanding that everybody’s going through it. Hopefully one day I can write and publish a book, and one of my biggest dreams is to go back inside prisons and give people hope.

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