Theo Shaw had already spent a month in the Lasalle Parish Jail when Friends of Justice first arrived in Jena. Seven months would pass before he returned to the free world. Last week, I sat down with Theo across the street from the University of Louisiana, Monroe campus. He had been a bewildered High School kid the last time we had spoken; he is now a confident young man. Theo politely answered my questions about the Jena 6 experience; but his eyes didn’t sparkle until the conversation shifted to the future. Theo Shaw is a man on a mission.
From Jena 6 to Law School
After spending four mouths in a 24/7 lock-down cell, I knew that if I wanted any change in my situation, I would have to act on my own behalf. I befriended another inmate who had a law book. My bond was set at $130,000, so I began to write my own bond reduction motions. My first couple of attempts failed, but after two months of work I finally got the bond lowered. That’s when I started thinking about going to law school once I had my freedom.
This experience showed me how valuable knowledge of the law could be. I began talking to my attorney and a few friends about attending law school. If I could attend law school, I knew I could be an awesome advocate for other people.
I am now a political science major and Spanish minor at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. Before transferring to ULM, I had a wonderful experience as Student Government President at Louisiana Delta Community College. As president, I met with many legislators at our state capital in Baton Rouge, LA. The big highlight was being able to lobby against legislative proposals I thought were bad for Louisiana college students. This experience strengthened my desire to make it to law school.
After transferring to ULM, I was able to view the law first-hand as an intern with the Innocence Project of New Orleans in the summer of 2010. This gave me a chance to work with lawyers and investigators on a number of criminals case. The work was hard and long, but I enjoyed every moment of it. I completed memos on cases, and worked on several research projects. Protecting the rights of others is now my professional goal. I pray to God about becoming a lawyer every day. It’s an ambitious goal; but with God on my side, I know I can do it.
God has blessed me with an amazing church family. There are so many distractions that can pull a college student away from God’s purpose for your life. The Jena 6 experience happened when I was a high school student, but things are very different now. I now have loving Christian people in my life to support me. My faith is in God, and if I continue to delight myself in his righteousness, he will guide my steps.
Many thanks to everyone who supported us during the Jena 6 experience. It was a nightmare that turned into a rich blessing. God Bless you all!