"Serving life without parole is like 200 pounds of chains around your neck. You run to your cell into darkness and concrete to cry and beg God to help you give you some light."
- Reflection of Herman Tate
When the judge sentenced me to life, I actually thought it was all a joke. I was in a state of numbness and disbelief. I felt nothing standing in the courtroom. Not one tear fell. A man has never cried at his own funeral. It took years later during my life sentence when it finally hit me: LIFE SENTENCE. I finally broke down crying and I asked God to help me.
For the first 10 years, serving life without parole is like a 100 lbs of chains around your neck. It's something you gotta carry with you: LIFE. You long to take the chain off your neck but you can't. When you wake up you think about your life sentence. When you go to sleep you pray tomorrow you will get a chance to remove that chain. Every inmate calling you a "lifer" like it's cool and others calling you stupid for going to trial. There is no such thing as getting used to this. Everyone treats you as if you have a contagious disease, and no one wants to befriend you. Everyone avoids you. Some are scared of you. It’s insulting.
After 20 years serving life without parole, the chain around your neck feels like 200 lbs. You can’t hold your head up to see the sun anymore. You become an isolated, lower version of humanity. Everyone is talking about their plans for when they get out and of their loved ones, girlfriends, wives, children who can't wait until next week, next month, next year for them to come home. You run to your cell into darkness and concrete to cry and beg God to help you give you some light.
After 20 years buried alive, it's hard for me to call home and have a conversation. I am lost. I don't know what to talk about. It's like my questions are forced and our brief convo is getting on my family's nerves. It feels like you’re calling from hell and no one wishes to talk with a man in hell. I don't blame them. I've not called many of them in years. You feel cut off from the world. These days, no one has time to write letters, no one mails pictures. You just become a lost and distant memory.