Jamie, 31

Jamie, 31

Meet Jamie…

“One day I’ll make it home, and when I do, I’ll be the best version of myself possible. I love my family, and I want to make them proud.”

Jamie, 31

Incarcerated: 6 years

Housed: Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla, California

When I first held my son, I looked into his eyes and swore to myself and him that I’d protect him, that I’d be the best mom, that I’d give him a better life than I had. I tried and I tried, but life is about choices, and I made some bad ones, I lost sight of what was important, and I allowed my broken heart to lead me down a path of darkness and destruction.

I was trying to fill the emptiness I felt inside with drugs and toxic relationships. I was doing anything I could, to not be alone because I was so filled with pain and fear. Misplaced loyalty and naivety caused me to make the wrong decisions and I’m paying for it now. I miss my son and my daughters every minute of every day. I miss laughing with my mom, I miss driving. I miss taking my son to the movies and going out to eat. These days I can’t do much besides stay positive and keep my faith that God is with me even when I feel alone. I work out daily and I try to help the other women here. I try to serve the community I am now a part of. I can’t take away the pain I’ve caused my family, and I can’t unbreak those hearts, but I’ve made another promise that I intend to keep: one day I’ll make it home, and when I do, I’ll be the best version of myself possible. I love my family, and I want to make them proud. 

Katherine, 34

Katherine, 34

Meet Katherine…

“I learned that my past mistakes gave me the power to live and to grow, no matter who I was or what I did”

Katherine, 34

Incarcerated: 11 years 

Housed: York Correctional Institution, Connecticut 

I have grown up so much in prison. I learned that my past mistakes gave me the power to live and to grow, no matter who I was or what I did. In prison, I finished high school, have enrolled in college and have been a mentor for the past three years. I am also in prison arts, where I am able to put my artwork for show. I really still have a lot to learn and a lot more to grow. But today I am proud of who I am as a woman of worth. My favorite saying is: Behind my prison walls, I can’t change the many years of yesterday,  but I can do something about my tomorrow.

Doraine, 66

Doraine, 66

Meet Doraine…

Prison is not designed to change a person; only you have the power to change yourself; you have to want to succeed.

Doraine, 66
Incarcerated: 5 years
York Correctional Institution, Niantic, Connecticut

I am a gospel singer behind the walls with locked doors and razor wires. Here I became the executive-producer of a gospel CD titled, “Raise the Praise, Live In Concert.” Our gospel group have been nominated seven times by Holla Back Gospel Music Awards with CEO Mr. Jerry Green. I have won several music awards including the McDonald Gospelfest Music Guinness Award by the legendary, Cece Houston, the late music icon, Whitney Houston’s mother.

I am not defined by my accused crime, I am not a number. I have learned I can prosper in the worst conditions; I am a survivor! Mary K. Blige’s producer, Edwin Ramos, assisted in building a recording studio behind these prison walls. Prison is not designed to change a person; only you have the power to change yourself; you have to want to succeed. You can be liberated and succeed and never forget where there is hope, there is purpose. To every reader, never give up!

Gerald, 40

Meet Gerald…

Over the next few years we became the closest we have ever been. We talked almost every day and wrote all the time. We even made plans for her to come visit me. I finally got my mother back. It took a very long time, she eventually got her son back. She became my best friend. Our relationship turned into something I wish all mothers and sons had.

Gerald, 40
Incarcerated: 15 years
Housed: Osborn Correctional Institution, Somers, Connecticut

It was like I was seeing my future flash in front of my face. I was walking home from second grade. My mom was waiting on the front porch. She was sweating, her eyes were wide open and she was breathing heavily. She said somebody got into the house (got into, not broke into) and stole your Nintendo. I rushed up the stairs and it was gone. Then I noticed the TV, the stereo and many other things a burglar would want to steal. I just started crying, not because I was without my precious Mario brothers, it was because I knew my mom was addicted to drugs and life as I knew it was about to change. Within a few years, my mom’s addiction was in full swing. My living situation was so crazy, sometimes there would be no heat, no hot water, no food or clean clothes. Sometimes there was no one in the house. I was homeless a few times because of her addiction.

Over the years our relationship became strained. I disappeared for months at a time. To survive I started hustling. I knew I could make money selling drugs because I saw how my mom would go crazy just to get drugs. I blamed her for all my problems, even the ones that were not her fault. Over the years she tried to get clean but it was always because somebody else told her to do it, the social worker, her parole officer, her probation officer or even the judge. She would stop for a while, then go back to doing the same things all over again, and me and my siblings would struggle again. In school I was the dirty kid, the smelly kid that everybody talked about. Over the years things got worse, me and my mom’s relationship got worse. 

One day we got into an argument because she wanted money to buy drugs. I told her NO, she got mad and kicked me out of her house at three in the morning. As I was leaving the house I said I HATE YOU, three words you should never say to your parent. A few years later I went to jail for a robbery I did not commit. The whole time, my mom didn’t write, visit or send money. So when I came home I didn’t go see her, she was still on drugs and I wanted nothing to do with her. My friends and family would tell me, the disease of addiction is crazy once it gets a hold of you, so I shouldn’t blame her, but I wasn’t trying to hear that. I was on the streets doing stupid shit and ended up getting locked up. I was fighting for my life, it was crazy. At every court date I would look into the stands, but my mother was never sitting there. I was up against the State of Connecticut and I had no one to show me they had my back. I lost that battle with the state and they gave me thirty years.

I went to jail and started doing my time. For the first couple of years I didn’t hear from my mom. Then one day I was in my cell with my boy Squeeze. We were talking when a letter slid under the door. When I saw who wrote it, I was shocked. She was checking on her baby boy. She said she was trying to get clean. I didn’t believe her. She started writing once or twice a week. She even sent money for a TV and trimmers to keep a good edge-up. I spoke to my Nana and she said she was clean, that was when I started to believe. We started talking on the phone, she said she just got tired of living that lifestyle and didn’t wanna do drugs anymore. That was the first time she quit without somebody forcing her.

Over the next few years we became the closest we have ever been. We talked almost every day and wrote all the time. We even made plans for her to come visit me. I finally got my mother back. It took a very long time, she eventually got her son back. She became my best friend. Our relationship turned into something I wish all mothers and sons had.

November 2, 2021 at 3:11pm my mom passed and she took a piece of me with her. I still have not gotten over the loss of my mom. This is a story of redemption not only for my mom, but for us. If you’re reading this – call or go hug your mom and tell her you love her, because you will miss her when she is gone.

Julissa, 49

Julissa, 49

Meet Julissa…

This is not my first time in prison. In 2006 I was sentenced to four years. I told myself I would never step foot in this prison again. But once again here I am.

Incarcerated: 5 months
Housed: York Correctional Institution – Niantic, Connecticut.

I have never touched a gun. My house was raided and they found 7 ½ pounds of marijuana. That wasn’t the real problem. It was the Tech-9 and extended clip they found. Losing my income from being sick with cancer led me back into selling drugs. As for the gun, I didn’t have knowledge of it being in my house. I wasn’t willing to tell them who’s gun it was, so I took the charge. I’m thankful to God and my lawyer because it could have been worse. I’m charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. This is not my first time in prison. In 2006 I was sentenced to four years. I told myself I would never step foot in this prison again. But once again here I am. I tried hard to live a life without crime and I succeeded for a long time. I am embarrassed and humiliated. I am a mother of five grown children and three grandchildren and here i sit in prison. I should be home in six months and can close this chapter and move on to more positive things with my children and grandchildren. Thankfully I still have a job, a home and a car. I’m fortunate to have a lot of support from family, friends and my fiancée. Believe me I see the struggle in here and it’s sad. There are women that could leave here tomorrow but have nowhere to go. Some don’t have any financial support. I consider myself fortunate. My body is here and my mind and spirit are home with my loved ones. I live outside of these walls. Julissa shared she purposefully did not enclose a picture of her in prison, because prison does not define her.

If the goal of my sentencing judge was to make me suffer for the remaining days of my life, then she succeeded. I wish the goal was for justice not to punish a man for life for an armed robbery of a Pizzeria with a toy gun and $149 to support a drug habit. Will I die un-mourned and a disgrace in the eyes of society?

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