Becoming a Model Citizen: Larry Brown’s Transformation Story
“Not once did I really say this was my home. This was never my home. This was a place the state of Mississippi sent me because I messed up. But I made the best of it,” says Larry Brown, a former resident of the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility.
Larry was sent to prison as a very young man still in his teens. 48 years later at age 65, in June of 2022, he was released from the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. Today, he returned.
“What’s up?” He says to a resident he knew well.
“How you doing, sir?” He says to a staff member.
“It makes me feel good to see you,” another resident tells him.
“That was my cell – 112,” Larry reminisces in his former living area.
Talking to another resident in the hallway, Larry laughs, “My first haircut, you know how much I had to pay for my first haircut? $40. I say I done went from $2 to $40!”
“I can hug you now because I ain’t got them convict stripes on no more,” he says to a staff member.
“Man, I feel good,” he tells those who have gathered around him.
After visiting with staff and residents in the facility, Larry says, “What you [saw] in there was genuine.”
Larry’s sister, Candance Brown, joined him for his visit back to the facility. She says, “I mean, it was – it’s different. It’s different because when you think of incarceration, you think of people afraid of inmates. [But] they’re very welcoming. It felt like family, you know, even me. When I walked in, I couldn’t believe both the inmates and administration treating him like family.”
“MTC showed me that they care,” Larry states.
While living at Wilkinson County, Larry had an emergency health issue take place that almost took his life. He downplayed the episode, but staff members insisted on getting help.
“They cared enough for me when I didn’t care for me. And that’s why I’m still here.”
Larry remembers the day he met Warden Darrel Vannoy, a 47-year veteran of the corrections industry at the time.
“And we got to talking. He told me he came from Angola. He told me how many years he’d done. I said, ‘Man, I gave 47 years.’ I said, ‘I guess that makes us the two oldest convicts here.’”
When Larry came up for parole, Warden Vannoy volunteered to go to the hearing with him.
“At the end,” Warden Vannoy explains, “They let him step out and they asked me, ‘If you were us, what would you do?’ And I said, ‘Well, I think that Larry Brown has done everything he can do to rehabilitate himself. If you keep him longer, it’s just for punishment. So I guess that’s your decision. Do you want to keep punishing him or do you want to let him go out and live the rest of his life? I think, you know, I think he’s going to be a model citizen.’”
Larry has a job he loves at Jackson State University where he’s impressed his employers. He also enjoys the solid, loving support from his sister and family.
“Have a plan,” Larry tells a group of residents at the facility. “That’s the only thing I want y’all to do. Have a plan when you get ready to leave this prison.”
“I am the proudest sister,” Candance declares. “I tell everyone. Like when we picked him up, I posted on my Instagram and Facebook page: ‘Here it is, a man. He’s done 48 years. He came out in his right state of mind. He had a plan.’”
“We always love success stories,” says Warden Vannoy. “It makes you very happy. Makes you very proud. I’m so happy for him.”
“I enjoy it,” Larry reflects. “Life is good. It’s expensive. But it’s good.”