Lourele Roberts was born and reared in the small town of Columbia, Louisiana, thirty miles south of Monroe, Louisiana. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, but before he was a teenager, Lourele started getting into trouble with the police for shoplifting. Lourele grew up in a loving Christian home and played team sports, but there was something missing: guides. He had a roof over his head, food to eat, and cloths on his back, but without discipline when he did wrong and free range to do whatever he wanted, he started getting into trouble. In August of 1996, he went to jail for armed robbery of a convenience store in Monroe, Louisiana. After being in jail for only three months, he escaped and was on the run as a fugitive for a year. In January of 1999, Lourele escaped a second time, but he was caught a couple of weeks later. He served 25 years consecutively, and on February 7, 2022 Lourele was granted parole. He was 46.
AMPS: Did you play any sports in school?
Lourele: Yes. I played sports all the way up to the eleventh grade, and then I dropped out of school. I played basketball and football. In football, I played both sides: I played wide receiver, safety on defense, kick off and kickoff return. In basketball, I played point guard and shooting guard.
AMPS: What age were you the first time you got into trouble with the police and what did you do and why?
Lourele: I think I was nine or ten. I got caught stealing out of a grocery store, and my momma had to come and get me. I don’t really know why I did it. I guess I was just bad.
AMPS: How did it affect your life going in and out of jail?
Lourele: I would say that I didn’t have a normal up bringing: no sense of direction or any guidance. I would go in and be around different guys and learn bad things I wasn’t learning nothing good. I had my grandparents, and they were like my parents, but I didn’t have any discipline. I never got in trouble with them. I guess you could say that in their eyes I couldn’t do no wrong. They put a roof over my head and fed me, but they didn’t guide me, so I could do whatever I wanted to do. My mom wasn’t really around. Sometimes she was in town, but for the most part she was out of town. So, at the age of nine or ten, I was just free to do whatever I wanted to do. After a while, going in and out of jail was just a regular way of life for me, and I wasn’t learning anything good.
AMPS: What was it that made you keep going down the wrong path?
Lourele: That was my life. That was all I knew, and doing crime was the easy way out for me. My train of thought was, “if you want something just take it” or selling drugs. That lifestyle was all around me, and my thinking process was how to do it better. All of my thoughts were wrong thoughts during that time in my life.
AMPS: How much time did you serve in prison?
Lourele: The longest time I did as a juvenile was a year. I ran from them and stayed on the run for a year. And I got caught when I was seventeen. As an adult, I served twenty-five years for armed robbery. I did it because that was my lifestyle and that’s how I was living. I was doing whatever crime that could make me some money. I did an armed robbery in Monroe, Louisiana and that was the wrong place to do that. I escaped from them twice, and when they caught me, they were trying to make an example out of me.
AMPS: What’s different this time than from the last time that would make you stay out of prison?
Lourele: Now I know better. I know of so many other positive things that I can do and accomplish. The things that I was trying to accomplish back then, I didn’t know anything but crime. I’ve learned and grown a lot over the years. I know there’s a right way to do things and the life that I was living back then I was destined to fail. Now I know that I couldn’t have the life that I wanted doing those things, and I learned that being on the inside. I started learning better things I could do to live, and once I realized what I was doing wasn’t right, I asked myself what I was thinking. When I look back at it, it was unbelievable that I was living like that. When you look at it, there wasn’t any way for me to win. The way that I was living back then, it’s a blessing that I’m still alive. I will never lose my freedom again doing wrong because it just doesn’t make sense.
AMPS: What advice would you give a young person who is heading down the same path you went down?
Lourele: I would tell them to use that same energy that they are using to do wrong to focus on doing the right thing and get even better results. I would encourage them to do it the right way.
AMPS: The last time that you went to prison you did twenty-five years consecutively. How old were you when you went in?
Lourele: I got arrested in 1997. I was 21 years old, and when I got out I was 46.
AMPS: When you got out, did you have any problems getting a job?
Lourele: No, I didn’t have any problems getting a job. We had ways on the inside to search for jobs to prepare us for the outside world. A lot of people are not trying to work or they’re being picky about the jobs that they will work. The jobs are out there, and you have to start somewhere. I saw a lot of people where I grew up who just didn’t want to work. Some of them just wanted to sit around and collect a check.
AMPS: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Lourele: I would just like to encourage anyone to do the right thing, stay on the right path, and let God lead the way. I was raised up in a Christian home. I’m a believer. I believe in God, and he will always take care of me. I don’t try to preach to people. I’m just sharing what God put in my heart. Sometimes people automatically go into defense mode when you bring up God. I would like to encourage anyone just to get to know him try him for yourself. That’s how I did it: I tried God for myself. I talked to him and developed a relationship with him. Once upon a time, I didn’t believe everything I heard, and I just prayed and asked God to show me because I didn’t understand. I said, “if this is real, show me.” I didn’t understand how I was supposed to love God more than anything else, and so I prayed and asked him to show me. And he showed me, and a lot of them were hard lessons, but he showed me. And I know he’s real.
AMPS: You said earlier that they were trying to make an example out of you by trying to put you away for life, but after doing twenty-five years straight you are a free man.
Lourele: They tried to keep me looked up. They tried everything that they could. They tried to the very end, but when God has a plan for you, there’s nothing that anyone can do to stop it.