"When I was a kid, we all used to hang out on Fifth Avenue in Chicago Heights. It was an ordinary block with young kids, older people and corrupt cops all hanging around."
Troy Lawrence grew up in a muted greys of concrete and despair in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He lived within a pervasive fog of poverty where not much beyond arm’s reach could be seen or attained.
For Chicago Heights police, young Troy Lawrence was low-hanging fruit. Every month, the same two officers patroled Fifth Avenue arresting young Black boys. In the fall of 1992, 17-year old Troy was repeatedly arrested for possessing $10 “dimebags” of cocaine. Troy pled guilty each time, mostly because he was tired of sitting in the local jail. Troy was released after 120 days in a boot camp for young offenders. Youthful choices are often regretful. Troy didn’t know at the time that teenage mistakes triggered traps in America's criminal court system that would later contribute to his federal life sentence.