PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — In 1987, at the age of 19, a suspect known as Banky Pound was sentenced to two life sentences and 15 years for murder and robbery at a Petersburg Hotel.
Behind bars for 33 years, Pound was paroled 2 and a half years ago after convincing the parole board he would spend the rest of his life helping children.
Today, the Newport News native is an internet sensation with 65,000 subscribers on YouTube. He has produced more than 500 inspirational videos, that include Scared Straight-style advice, prison-style cooking tips, and prison-style fitness tips. His most watched video on Tik Tok was his first video on TikTok. Pound says more than 700,000 people have watched a short clip that captured him attempting to help an elderly neighbor with yard work.
He’s a full-time influencer who is about to launch a podcast and he’s considering hiring an agent to help manage his media platforms and public appearances.
“People have reached out to me and told me how much my story resonated with them,” said Pound in a Zoom interview.
His story is the type of story the chairman of the Virginia Parole Board wants to hear when he visits Portsmouth this month for a community forum. Former judge Chadwick Dotson was appointed to the position in January 2022.
“I want nothing more than in 2,3,4,5 years from now, I actually tell them ‘I want you to come to the office and show me, hey I own a business; I am working here; I’m doing this and I have reconnected with my family;’ yes, we want to see those success stories,” said Dotson.
The Board is on a cleanup campaign after the previous administration allegedly botched the release of a prisoner who had served time for killing a Richmond police officer.
“I want to make sure everyone is heard and that everyone understands the process, but certainly we have made a specific attempt to make sure the victims understand that they can and will be heard. Dotson says the board will also revamp the agency’s website to make it more user-friendly.
24/7 Pound’s message is heard around the world.
“The most gratifying is when these young dudes reach out to me and they are brave enough to reach out to me to say the way that you paint the picture of how prison, I stopped all that I’m doing that’s wrong and I’m trying to go right,” said Pound.
The free form takes place on October 26 at 6 p.m. at The Book Club in downtown Portsmouth. For more information, contact Dr. Tyrone Davis at 757-409-9044.