Vivid, griping scenes of police chases, prison rapes pull readers into ‘With Edwards’

ALEXANDRIA–When Forest Hammond Martin walked onto the campus of Angola prison instead of a college campus, the Baton Rouge Capitol High School athlete had no idea how violent, seditious, and tortuous the next seven years of his life would be.

He was 17 years old and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the second-degree murder of a White Baton Rouge businessman.
With Edwards in the Governor’s Mansion: From Angola to Free Man is Hammond-Martin’s account of the realities of Louisiana’s criminal justice system and life in the nation’s “Alcatraz of The South”.

Arthor Forest Hammond Martin uses vivid, griping scenes of police chases and prison rapes to pull readers into  ‘With Edwards’

Author Forest Hammond Martin (pictured) uses vivid, griping scenes of police chases and prison rapes to pull readers into ‘With Edwards’

With Edwards begins with Hammond-Martin, a proud Capitol Lions track star who has earned a full athletic scholarship to the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. It’s 1973, and he was enjoying life, staying out of trouble, and working with his dad’s successful janitorial business when he follows a friend into Middleton’s Drug Store on Fairfields Avenue.

While walking toward the store, he hears but ignores a small voice telling him not to go to the store, writes Hammond-Martin. He didn’t listen and Boodie—who he’s followed into the store—fights the owner, shoots, and kills him inside the store.  Both teenagers flee. When the police come to the Martin home, they handcuff the teen as “insurance” and take him to the station for questioning. Never reading him his Miranda rights and not officially arresting him. Through hours of interrogation, the officers promised Hammond-Martin that he would not lose his scholarship and everything would work out because he didn’t pull the trigger.

“I was ignorant. I had never been in trouble before. I knew nothing about the law,’ he said. “I believed the police and the lawyers. And they just raped me—sorta speak–of my civil rights and of my constitutional rights. They made a fool out of me and I felt so stupid.” He later was “schooled by hard core criminals” in Angola who told him he would never get out. “Those police lied to you,” he was told.

“I wanted to bring the reader on the scene, in the moment, and have them go right through what I was going through.”

He accomplishes that successfully through many griping scenes from house parties, police chase, the murder, and debates with attorneys to prison bathroom fights, attempted rapes, boxing matches, and parties at the Governor’s Mansion.

Hammond-Martin’s writing is effectively vivid and fast-paced, with only awkward switch to first person where the author said it was important for the readers to “truly grasp the fact that this was my life experience.”

Fought matches and became the light, heavyweight boxing champion of Angola. After serving only seven years of a life sentence, Hammond-Martin is pardoned and set free by Governor Edwin Edwards in 1980.

“It was nothing but God, he said. “Even though I was innocent and I didn’t murder anyone, I knew going into Angola that the only way I would get out of this was if God got me out and He did.”

Hammond-Martin is now dean of the Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research in Alexandria.  He is also a motivational speaker for educating at-risk youth about the legal system.


By Candace J. Semien
Contributing Writer

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