Former prisoner recalls sheriff’s kindness

Published 3:52 pm Friday, December 28, 2018

In 2002, Lemarkus Snow was named in a four-man drug indictment and given a $5 million bond. Snow was named as a “drug kingpin,” charged with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, as well as criminal conspiracy, and given a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.

Before being shipped off to prison, Snow spent one year in Dallas County Jail.

“I was denied every possible thing in the Dallas County Jail that a man would need to prepare himself for going to prison,” Snow said. “I reached out to so many people in the community who were in charge, but none of them listened or offered to help.”

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According to Snow, his pleas for assistance – specifically to be granted visits to see his family before going to prison as well as access to the facility’s law library and recreation time – fell on deaf ears.

Snow said he contacted the mayor, the police chief, the city attorney and the district attorney and got no response. After that, he decided to reach out to Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman.

“I wrote to him and explained my situation and how I’d been denied everything not knowing my own fate,” Snow said. “Sheriff Huffman didn’t just look at the envelope and throw it in the trash, he read it.”

According to Snow, things began to change immediately – he was granted special visits with his family, as well as access to the law library and time for recreation.

“People in high places look at criminals as nothing, scum of the Earth,” Snow said. “Sheriff Huffman looked at me as a human being, someone who had made mistakes and needed some help from a higher power.”

After his year in jail, state charges were dropped and picked up by the federal government – Snow received six years in prison and an additional five years of probation. Snow served the majority of his sentence at Marianna Federal Correctional Facility in Florida and finished it out at the Federal Correctional Institution in Talladega.

During his time in federal prison, Snow was productive – he received certificates in business management and psychology and took classes for anger management, fatherhood and adapting back into society.

During his time, he never forgot the kindness shown to him by Huffman.

“Instead of doing my time with a frown, it was done with a smile,” Snow said. “It feels great to know that people on top know what you’re going through and will lend a helping hand.”

Upon release, Snow spent six months in a halfway house in Montgomery before beginning his probation, which he completed early due to good behavior and no disciplinary actions.

Since his time in the system, Snow has launched two small businesses in the Selma area – Snow’s Cleaning Service and Snow’s Paint and Body – which he has operated for the last 11 years.

“Sheriff Huffman is a man and knew what a man needed to help with his incarceration,” Snow said. “He took the time out and listened and I never got the chance to thank him, but he stands for a lot in my eyes. A true leader, someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Though Snow never got the chance to personally thank the sheriff who made such an impression on him, Huffman remembers Snow well.

“Mr. Snow has done extremely well,” Huffman said. “It puts a smile on my face to know someone went through a hard time and turned their life around. Obviously, he has. It makes me feel good.”

For Huffman, treating people with kindness and compassion is a matter of common practice.

“I always try to treat people the way I want to be treated,” Huffman said. “Just because somebody’s in jail doesn’t you can’t help them along. I can respect anybody, as long as they respect me.”

Huffman, whose retirement becomes effective Jan. 14, has been with the sheriff’s department for 39 years, 24 of which he has served as sheriff. He is the only person to be elected six consecutive times as sheriff.

“I feel pretty good about that,” Huffman said. “I’ve done what I can do. I’ve spent almost 40 years helping the public and now it’s time for me to look out for my family.”

For Snow, Huffman’s compassion “meant the world.”

“Today, almost 16 years have passed,” Snow said. “To keep me going in the right direction, I look back at the impact he made on my life when he didn’t look at me as a criminal, but as a man who needed help and guidance.”