When they transported her from one prison to another, the officers shackled her around her wrists, waist and feet. Evelyn LaChapelle shuffled in half steps.
“You’re in the middle of a runway with no one else, with the world not even knowing you’re there. They don’t even allow you to tell your family ahead of time, like, ‘Hey, I’m being transported today,’” said LaChapelle, who served prison time for a non-violent cannabis offense. “So, I’m … getting on an unmarked plane … and we’re getting moved like cattle.”
Prison wasn’t exactly what she expected. She didn’t constantly fear getting stabbed or killed, as many inmates in other lockups do. But she cried early on when she realized what her diet would consist of: meat sticks mixed in ramen noodles. The outlook was grim. “Surviving is almost null and void in there,” she said.
LaChapelle served five years of her seven-year sentence for depositing profits from an illicit cannabis operation into her bank account. She was released Feb. 1, 2019, and given four years’ probation. She now works as an event planner, as she did prior to her time in prison.
Photo by Giacobazzi Yanez
LaChapelle is an adviser with the Last Prisoner Project (LPP), a nonprofit founded by Steve and Andrew DeAngelo and Dean Raise. In that role, she shares her story, brings awareness to the issue of people being incarcerated for cannabis and promotes the work of LPP.
Registered as a 501(c)(3) in 2019, LPP’s mission is to free the approximately 40,000 prisoners incarcerated for non-violent cannabis offenses in the U.S, with the help of individuals, organizations and the cannabis industry. Its team engages in multiple initiatives, such as lobbying and gathering petition signatures to convince government to release prisoners, and seal and expunge their records; and setting up