Photo: Clifford hugging his younger sister Glenda, just outside the gates of Angola prison. Glenda was born after Clifford was locked up in 1958.
In May 1958, Clifford killed his childhood friend in an act that haunts him to this day. He was 17 years old. After turning himself in to the police, he was sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison without any option of parole. In 2012 the US Supreme Court ruled that such mandatory life without parole sentences for children are unconstitutional. That opened the door for Clifford to seek a lesser sentence in court. It took 7 more years after the ruling, but after a lot of work, but he finally made it to the parole board a few months ago where he along with family and peers successfully made the case for himself -- he was released!
When Clifford was sent to prison in 1959, Eisenhower was President. Alaska and Hawaii were added as the 49th and 50th states. Clifford grew up living and working on the Armant Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana. His family had no running water in their house. There were no white kids in his school.
Over the last six decades in prison Clifford has worked to find peace by dedicating himself to becoming a better person, studying the Bible, taking numerous self help courses, and writing poetry.
Today, at 78 years old, Clifford is finally free. He is adjusting to a very different world than he knew when he was sent to prison as a teenager. Clifford is now learning how to use a cell phone, and is wearing a seatbelt and walking down Walmart aisles for the first time in his life. He is delighted to be able to take a bath in a tub, which he has not done since he was a kid. He remarked about riding in the car away from Angola, “this was the first time I was not shackled while in a car in 60 years, I feel like I am not just moving through the world, but in it.”
Photo: Anna Lellelid, one of Clifford's attorney's, showing Clifford how to use his cell phone.
Sadly, as so many people who have left prison know, "freedom" comes with a price, even for someone who has lived almost his entire life behind bars. Clifford Hampton will be on parole for the rest of his life. In addition to learning how to live in society for the first time in 61 years and as an elderly man, he will have to figure out how to finance the rest of his life.
Despite 61 years of hard work in the sugarcane fields, in the print shop and cleaning the prison (to name a few of his many jobs), Clifford earned virtually no money and that money did not count towards Social Security. Clifford will earn the bare minimum from Disability, which he will not be able to live on.
Here are some of the many financial needs Clifford is facing:
* Clifford will be on parole for the rest of his life.
$150/month in parole fees
* Because of a combination of years of institutionalized medical neglect and old age) he has significant medical costs. He is unable to qualify for Medicare because he does not have 10 years of non-prison employment, which means that his health care options are greatly restricted;
$ Unknown medical costs (eye surgery, medication for diabetes and high blood pressure, dental... )
$575/month (and rising)
*Clothing basics (shoes, socks, underwear, pants, t shirts)
Clifford needs help in these days and months ahead. He currently has no income while awaiting Social Security benefits and is relying on donations from friends and family. Your contribution, no matter how small, will help Clifford Hampton in many ways.
Thank you and a huge thanks to all who have helped Clifford out so far!
Clifford Hampton with members of his legal team after leaving Angola, from Left to Right: Rebecca Kendig, Samantha Kennedy, Clifford Hampton, and Anna Lellelid.