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Arrested more than 55 times - now he's using his voice to make a difference

A New Orleans man is shares his story of what he describes as a life of crime.

NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans man is sharing his story of what he describes as a life of crime. Lance Parlow spent his entire life in and out of prison, now he wants to use his voice to tell young people it’s not worth it.

Lance Parlow is a man with a story, he says he’s been arrested more than 55 times. He told Eyewitness News he’s been charged with “four felony convictions, I have been to 32 states, and I have been in jail in about 7 of them.”

Since a kid he’s been in and out of jail, he says he started stealing when he was 12, because he was hungry. 

“I would take my book sack and fill it up with candy…I would go sell it at school to make the money and take it to my mama,” he said.

At 15, he went to jail for the first time for armed robbery, he then dropped out before finishing middle school.  By 23, he was selling drugs.

According to the Orleans Sheriff's Office, Lance’s track record is lengthy. In 2005 he was charged with resisting an officer and being in the possession of marijuana. In 2009 he was charged with distributing cocaine and in possession of crack. 

In 2012 he was hit once again with possession of and distributing cocaine. Court documents show he was charged with 7 years of hard labor at the department of corrections.

“I have been to jail 55 times with four felony convictions, and I am never going back. Why I say that I am not going to do the same things,” Parlow said.

Living with his sister in Hammond, he wants to create a life that supports himself and his two daughters. Eleanor Tabone asked him what motivated him to stop committing crimes.

He responded with: “I got tired of going to jail.”

Dr. Arlanda Williams, Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development at Delgado says advanced manufacturing and maritime jobs are best suited for those without an education or who have served time.

“There’s different pathways each person can take, and Delgado is here to stand in the gap for them. It doesn’t matter if it's re-entry or no high school diploma, there is opportunity here,” Dr. Williams said. “It’s very important for the community and technical college systems to stand up and off that non-traditional student opportunity.”

Lance, now 39, just graduated from Delgado, and is certified as an electrician and logistics manager.

“I wanted to experience being on the honor roll, I wanted to experience being good, I wanted to experience stressing out over tests,” Lance said.

Dr. Williams says there’s lots of work for electricians and plumbers here.

“There’s lots of opportunities in this region for electrical workers, electrical line workers, fiber optics splice…The city of New Orleans there’s opportunity here,” Dr. Williams said.

Former New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass says during his tenure, he actively worked to create jobs to reduce the city’s crime.

“We gave them an opportunity to make a living for their family in the real world,” Compass said. “We had job fairs, we had gotten all the electrical unions in, the plumbers union, the carpenters union, we got the sewerage and water board in, we got some private people, we had job fairs in the public housing developments.”

He says that was key in the early 2000s,.

“The arrests went down, the crime went down, and the violence went down. So instead of attacking crime from an enforcement standpoint, we did it from a preventative standpoint,” Compass said.

He says the model implemented then, can be replicated today. As for Lance, he’s looking forward to his first day as a working electrician.

“The street life is really only going to get you dead, or in a jail cell because it ain't going to get you a 401K it ain't going to get you a wife or husband… it's not going to get you nothing productive,” Parlow said.

He took the leap and said no to a lifetime of crime, the advice, which he says he was never given is this: “Before you pull your gun out, before you pull the trigger ask yourself. Is it really worth it?”

Because everyone’s future holds something great.

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