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I found my place by doing advocacy and working as a one-on-one observer and companion for the mentally ill. I used my voice for those who lost theirs. I witnessed things no human should endure, and I still carry that pain with me as I begin my journey of release. I have done very well with “go with the flow,” but being held against your will can be breathtaking. The challenges never stop.

After years of incarceration, you either find healing or you don’t. This system we are involved in wasn’t implemented to help us. Sometimes, we forget about the person we were supposed to be before we were robbed of our innocence as kids. The person we were supposed to be before we found unhealthy ways to numb the pain before we had to beg, steal, or borrow to get through the day.

I used my voice
for those who lost theirs.

You can see the pattern: most of us who are imprisoned come from trauma, violence, and poverty. The poverty that no one seems to acknowledge. We go through the motions daily in the prison. I want to cry out and wear my pain upon my sleeves and ask God, “Why me?” but why not me? The valley was never a straight path to follow, so this is to be expected.

I didn’t expect the massive system failure inside these cold concrete walls. The walls only get new paint when it’s time for inspection. For some, they never make it back; these walls are consumed and get the best of them. We painted over the name of a girl who took her life so we could pretend we were perfect for the state. Does our paint job look good, Mr. Inspector? We are sorry if we got out of line and for the paint that dripped down the side of the bucket; we never had the chance even to color when we were kids, but are these prison walls up to your standards?

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