Dateline’s Life Inside Episode Recap

Life Inside episode

In my quest toward prison abolition, I find it crucial for people who disagree to spend time researching the actual lived experience of incarcerated people, so I was happy to see that NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt spent three days inside Angola prison for the Dateline Life Inside special as part of the “Justice for All” series. “Justice for All” is an NBC/MSNBC initiative where Lester Holt reports stories on criminal justice reform with currently and formerly incarcerated people such as Meek Mill, activists like Bryan Stevenson, organizers, and other people in proximity to the system. Life Inside was the final installment and probably the most emotional of the series as Lester came up close and personal with the brutal and racist realities of the prison system. Of course, like most journalists, Lester was mostly unbiased throughout his entire stay in Angola, but he did show a few hints of empathy toward the men he met inside. The Louisiana State Penitentiary, or Angola, is a maximum security prison built on top of a massive former slave plantation that is known for its history of violence and brutality. In the episode, Lester slept in a cell for two nights and met with men of all backgrounds (however, most of the men imprisoned were men of color, unsurprisingly) including three of the longest-serving men pictured above: Henry Montgomery, Sammie Robinson, and Clifford Hampton, who all together have served 182 years at Angola. Henry Montgomery’s story is extremely important in criminal justice news because he actually took his case all the way to the Supreme Court and won (Montgomery v. Louisiana). However, Mr. Montgomery still remains in prison as Life Inside documented his quest for parole. Life Inside is an important piece of journalism that shows how troubling prisons are, no matter what crime was committed. I hope you’ll all watch the episode here on and never forget the stories of the men inside.