Herman Tate’s happiest memory was when he first held his daughter Cierra. At that moment, he found that he truly loved someone more than himself and describes it as “pure joy.” He loves seafood, the color yellow, the Dallas Cowboys, and he wanted to be a scientist when he grew up. But 20 years ago, he was sentenced to prison for life without parole due to a non-violent drug offense.

He is a father of eight children and a grandfather to four, whom he has never met. Because he is in the federal system, Herman has been relocated multiple times. He has been to Arizona, Kentucky, and Georgia, making it nearly impossible for his family to visit. He wishes he could see his mother more, but she is too old to drive too far.

Herman misses his children the most.

A self-described outdoorsman, he misses the beauty of nature, the landscapes of his hometown in North Carolina and fishing.

He longs to see kids playing and having fun. He misses the simplest things, like having a nice walk.

Herman wishes he could talk to his younger self to make better decisions. He would tell his younger self that he would be in prison for life for conspiracy to sell drugs. He would let him know of the pain that is within himself and that death or prison are the only things that await him if he continues down this destructive path.

He describes the first 10 years of serving life without parole as having “100 pounds of chains” around his neck. When he was sentenced in 1998, he was in a state of disbelief. He felt nothing and no tears fell. It took him until 2002 to realize his fate. It was the first time he cried and asked God for help.

Herman dreams of being released so he could help those in danger of being locked up for life. “If I could save one child from this life, it would be worth it to me.”

After 20 years, he describes the chain around his neck being 300 pounds now. It is hard for him to call home because he feels lost. Being away from his family has caused a void in his life. He feels as though he is “calling from hell” and that no one “wishes to talk with a man in hell.” Herman does not blame them.

Herman has been cut off from the world these past 20 years. He has more than paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance at life.

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