Lawrence Bartley watched his youngest son's first steps in a visiting room at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. He is an inmate. On Christmas night, 1990, he killed a 15 year-old bystander during a shoot-out in a movie theater. Bartley was 17 at the time.
Now, he is a father of three. He's married to his middle school sweetheart. He has a master's degree. His daughter, born just after he was arrested, is now a grown woman. And he's had a lot of time to think about his crime. He's serving a sentence of 27 years to life. He is up for parole in less than three years. He's not sure what he'll say to the parole board, or if he'll feel comfortable asking for his freedom after taking a life. That's not his only challenge. His two young sons—a 7-year-old and an 18-month-old—don't understand that he's in prison, or know why. To them, he's their hero.
I visited Bartley at Sing Sing, where we talked about the crime he committed, what he has learned, and what he's doing to counter gun violence outside prison. He is thinking hard about what kind of husband and father he needs to be.
A full transcript of the episode is here.
Lawrence Bartley appears in an upcoming documentary about gun violence called Voices from Within. It's in production now and will eventually be shown in schools.