Rebecca, 33

Rebecca, 33

Meet Rebecca…

I always try to be optimistic. When they told me I would never walk again, in my mind I told myself I could. I’ve always had a habit of going for things people say I won’t achieve.

Incarcerated: 10 years

Housed: McPherson Women’s Unit, Newport, Arkansas

I was running from the police and broke my back by jumping out a two story window. It instantly paralyzed me from the waist down. The doctors said I would never walk again. I have two rods and a cage in my back. I always try to be optimistic. When they told me I would never walk again, in my mind I told myself I could. I’ve always had a habit of going for things people say I won’t achieve. Within a few months, I ended up pregnant with my daughter, Ivanna. I continued with my criminal lifestyle and within nine months, I was in jail. Two days later, I went into labor in prison. Due to my 30 year sentence, where I have to serve seven years, my rights were taken. The state put my daughter up for adoption after I was only given three days with her. I was going through such a hard time. I didn’t understand why all this pain kept happening to me. A year later, I was taken out to court with a U.S. Marshal hold. I was being federally indicted with a new arrest warrant. On top of my 30 year state sentence, they say I’m looking at a life sentence in federal prison. While in federal court, I met a 19 year old Mexican girl, Martha Pulido. She said I was the mother she never had. She couldn’t speak English so I taught her. Everyday she would get up and exercise my legs. Because of her, I was able to walk by the time I came back from federal court. Don’t get me wrong, my legs are still weak and I fall all the time. Ten years later, I am no longer in a wheelchair. I do wear a brace on my right leg. In the process of being paralyzed, I lost myself by letting my insecurities and low self-esteem get in the way. I have to remind myself that the greatest battles are won during the midst of a storm and my scars are full of stories of when life tried to break me and failed. I’ve done this time by myself, with no help or financial support,  but I have overcome obstacles most people in life couldn’t. My determination has paid off. I will be leaving here in six months to go to federal prison where I should be released shortly thereafter, since I’ve done the majority of my time here. 📸Rebecca’s Mom, Mary

Kathy, 60

Kathy, 60

Meet Kathy…

Telling my story sets me free from these walls. I hope to carry on my mission and help women with trauma. What was meant for bad can be turned to good.

Incarcerated: 7 years
Housed: McPherson’s Women’s Unit – Newport, Arkansas

I am taking classes and believe that education is important. I like to crochet and draw portraits, both are relaxing. Being locked up is lonely. I love life and family. In prison the last seven years I’ve learned a lot about myself. I enjoy school and learning new things.  Getting my GED and enrolling in college classes transformed me into a new person. One who has compassion and understanding of society unlike before prison. I have learned to interact with others on a level of comfort and peace instead of turmoil and violence which were learned in my childhood home full of domestic violence, abuse, and alcoholism. I have also learned how to overcome abuse and anorexia through writing, drawing and crocheting. Teaching a domestic violence support group in my barracks has helped me. I sell crocheted items to the free world to support myself. There has to be a better way.  Telling my story sets me free from these walls. I hope to carry on my mission and help women with trauma. What was meant for bad can be turned to good.

Montreal, 52

Meet Montreal…

I got myself right with God, I help to steer the youth and everyone in the right direction. I tell them, no matter their past, they can change their futures.

Incarcerated: 23 years
Housed: Cummins Unit, Grady, Arkansas

I am doing a life without parole for murder. I went to Hall high school until the 11th grade. My father was a minister and my mom was a school teacher. I have one daughter who is 32 years old. I moved to Oklahoma in 1998 after I did five years in AOC. That’s where I caught this charge I’m on now and got a life sentence. I am doing my time here closer to my family. I got myself right with God, I help to steer the youth and everyone in the right direction. I tell them, no matter their past, they can change their futures. I do a lot of positive things with my time. I have three projects doing good at the moment. One is a published book called ORIGINAL PLAYER. My other projects include a co-ed magazine, and a book about the true heroes of the pandemic. I feel they will all do great if they get seen. I love my family, thank them for their support and I do what I do because they inspire me to do good. 

Thomas, 40

Meet Thomas…

I am coming up on 16 years of incarceration. I do not know if any of my family is alive or not. I have not seen or talked to them. I don’t even know where they are living now.

Incarcerated: 18 years
Housed: North Central Unit; Calico Rock, Arkansas

My story starts in March of 2006. I am 24 years old and I am staying with my sister and brother-in-law in Fayetteville, AR. I am working with my brother-in-law doing electrical work for a small company in Fayetteville.

I come home from work for lunch, to find 12 Fayetteville police officers at the house waiting for me. As they arrested me they told me I was being detained for possession of, viewing or distributing material of sexually explicit nature of children (child porn). I had rented five computers and was paying for the internet at the house. The internet company informed the police that someone at our address had downloaded the material. While being interviewed I told them that it was not me, it couldn’t be. They said the computers and internet is in your name, it’s your charge. While I was in court my brother-in-law’s daughters stood up in court and said “Be a man and own up to what you did, Dad!” The judge asked me “Do you know what they are talking about?” They are saying the charges I’m facing should be his. The judge asked them “Is that correct, can you prove it was your dad?” they said no. The judge then said, the charges will remain against you. At 24, I was sentenced to 30 years with 12 years suspended imposition of sentence. After I was sentenced my brother-in-law’s daughters stood up again in court and told him “Stay away from us as we fear for our safety. We are going to live with our brother.” After being sentenced I saw my sisters and mother, once in county jail. I am coming up on 16 years of incarceration. I do not know if any of my family is alive or not. I have not seen or talked to them. I don’t even know where they are living now. As for friends, no I have not heard from any of them since I was charged as a “Child sex offender.” I’m going to ask the same question that one of my friends asked my mother. “Who wants to be friends with a known child sex offender?” Everyone looks down on a sex offender and even more so when it involves a child. Do I blame them? Not at all. Even though I carry the title, I am not a person who has or ever would do that. In fact, up until recently I really wanted to get out and kill my brother-in-law; but my higher power has started to show me a better way in life. Through education and religion, I have learned to work my very hardest and forgive people of their past wrongs and forget. Through a great university such as Ashland University out of Ohio. I was given a second chance to receive a college education. I have received my associate of arts in business administration and I am working on an associates of arts in sociology and my bachelor’s of arts in applied communication. With these degrees, I will be able to start my life over when I get out of prison. The sad part is I made parole in October 2014 and have been stuck in prison as I have nowhere to parole out to. I am stuck in prison until February 2024 my discharge date. The state of Arkansas does not have halfway houses that will take people in my position. The prison system in Arkansas requires its inmates to work but does not pay them “Slavery.” If they did I would have been able to rent a place to parole out to. Bot having any family or friends, I am worried about getting out and what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle making new friends. I am currently in a program called Principle Application of Life Skills. I have also done a re-entry program called Think Legacy. I’m working to be ready to be released, yet I am still worried because making new friends has never been easy for me.