Megan, 35

Megan, 35

Meet Megan…

“It’s ok to take life one day at a time. It’s ok to make mistakes. My mistakes and choices are what brought me to prison, but if it wasn’t for my mistakes, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Without my mistakes, I would not have a testimony.”

Megan, 35

Incarcerated: 7.5 

Housed: Anson Correctional Institution, Polkton, North Carolina

My entire life revolved around drugs and destructive relationships. It wasn’t long, I dropped out of high school and moved out of my parents’ house. I was 15 years old. All I wanted to do was find comfort, and I tried to find that in the wrong people and the wrong places. I never thought about what my life was going to be like 10 or 15 years down the road. My life consisted of using drugs or being around them. If people weren’t contributing to my drug use, they weren’t a factor in my life. I gave up on the true meaning of life. I gave up on my daughter and on myself. I pushed everyone away due to the pain I was holding onto. It was only causing me more damage than what I already had inside of me, including the ones around me. I’ve had my ups and downs these past 7.5 years, but I have never felt more free or more at peace in my entire life than I have these past few years. I only have God to thank for that. When you finally find yourself after feeling lost for so long, you start to see things much clearer. You no longer want to take life for granted, you see the bigger picture in life. It’s ok to take life one day at a time. It’s ok to make mistakes. My mistakes and choices are what brought me to prison, but if it wasn’t for my mistakes, I would not be who I am today. Without my mistakes, I would not have a testimony. My mistakes are what saved my life. I now know how to be a mother to my daughter. I’ve overcome my drug addiction, that was the biggest demon I ever had to fight, and I did it alone. I want to continue to be here for my daughter. I want to live! The first lesson in overcoming our pain is forgiving ourselves, and forgiving others. Without forgiveness, there is no moving forward. I want to make a difference, one day at a time. There is life after drugs. There is life after a life sentence. We can be set free inside these walls. What we achieve at our best moments doesn’t say much about who we are; it all boils down to what we become at our worst.

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. 

Audra, 53

Audra, 53

Audra, 53

Meet Audra…

My mistakes and crimes do not define me, my hurt no longer controls me.

Audra, 53
Incarcerated: 13 years
Housed: Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla

In my childhood dreams, I wanted to be a police officer so bad, in order to help people. Then with his dirty touch my dreams become nightmares. These things were seen but not seen, heard but not heard. As a young girl my soul was broken. My dreams and trust were consumed by fear, so my voice was no more. Anger and hate replaced my innocence. My granny tried, she cried, and prayed to my uncles to protect me, but the damage was done. I trusted no one, so I ran straight to her arms. I was seeking a mother figure or friend, but found my lover instead. Too young to understand, I was used, fooled by the pretty red painted dirty hands. I ran into many dead ends, then drugs came in. It was pure hell as a young girl. The money grind became my life, I was a hustler by nature, so fast, it kept me blinded.

For my lifestyle, my children paid the price, life in prison, twice. In here, the lion’s den, I began my destructive cycle, running, gaming and manipulating, only to pretend we were family and friends, just to fit in. As a young, broken, lost and damaged mother, how was I to provide from behind bars? It was just so hard, so now that is granny’s job. My soul had long ago died, 25 to life could break the broken. I thought I was too far gone to be helped, my hustle was grand, it could buy my freedom, but it couldn’t fix the pain. When death seemed like the win, I succumbed to seventy five Tylenol codines, chasing my end, to the peace I wanted more than anything. I heard the chaplain say, “Seek and ye shall find, He is the way, the truth and the light.”  So I gave God a try, and I put up a great fight. I lost, He won and a relationship began. I was blinded but now I see, lost but now I’m found, broken but now I’m healed. Once there was no hope, but today I am full of hope. My life is now enriched because of his grace and mercy. His love within me is never ending. My mistakes and crimes do not define me, my hurt no longer controls me. Though I was judged by man, I was saved by grace. The world sees me as nothing, but I know I’m a bride of Christ, heir to the most high.

Dorothy, 45

Dorothy, 45

Meet Dorothy…

Sometimes I feel like people don’t care what an inmate has to say, so this is a good organization to let us be heard by the free world. Because there are people out there who care about us. I walked into prison at 18 years old. I was told by the courts that I wouldn’t make it out of here. Man, I try so hard to do the right thing. The parole board asks a lot out of a person, always looking at the bad things you’ve done, but they don’t look at the things you go through mentally. I’ve been down 19 years and I lost all the important people in my world, including the love of my life, my mother. All together I have lost over 21 people, I fight hard to stay sane in here. I keep losing all the women in my life that mean everything to me. I have lost my mother while in prison. I feel me being in prison makes me really appreciate women and my family more than ever. Nowadays, my life consists of building a foundation and fighting for my freedom. I always remember: your present situation is not your final destination, the best is yet to come!! Through the years I have leaned on my best friend Tia, Here’s a picture of us spending some time together before the “hard times”.

All my choices for the baby and myself were gone as soon as the cuffs clicked around my wrist.

My baby’s birth date, circumstances, and what was to follow was all up to the sheriff’s department. My daughter’s family would not be allowed to greet her. As she entered this world, there would be minimal staff and two deputies in my hospital room. My pleas to be allowed my mom in the delivery room were all denied. “Please” I begged “I don’t want to be alone”. I wanted someone who loved me and knew me to greet my daughter. If anything went wrong or if it went perfectly, I would have no one to share it with me. “You’re an inmate” or “policy” were the reasons for the denials. The day arrived for my C-section and I was still begging to no avail. I was to be in surgery all alone. I was shackled and driven to the hospital. I signed a paper to allow my baby’s guardian to take my daughter to my home where the nursery we had decorated and prepared awaited her. My mind created images of her in her crib with the sock monkey doll I bought her. She would sleep in the nursery with curtains made out of her daddy’s military uniforms. The walls were the perfect shade of butterscotch and the floor was a painted wooden floor that a loved one had painted for me. My little girl would sleep in clothes that people closest to us had given as gifts. I did not want her to go into the foster system or to stay with strangers. The baby’s guardian had been staying in my home and I had no one else to turn to. All those beautiful thoughts were just an illusion of things that would never happen.

Receive more inspiring stories and news from incarcerated people around the world.