Ciara, 34

Ciara, 34

Meet Ciara…

Forgive as you may be forgiven. Make amends while you are still living. Don’t allow grudges to hold you back. Bitterness causes you to go off track. Allow love in your heart to let healing begin. Harboring hatred is a most deadly sin.

Ciara, 34
Incarcerated:  4 years
Housed: Topeka Correctional Facility, Kansas

“Forgive as you may be forgiven. Make amends while you are still living. Don’t allow grudges to hold you back. Bitterness causes you to go off track. Allow love in your heart to let healing begin. Harboring hatred is a most deadly sin.” by Lovette. I read this and felt the truth of these words. For years I’ve wandered around aimlessly, lost. I’ve allowed the poison of hatred, grudges, and pain from the things that I’ve endured as a child, from the very people who were supposed to love and protect me, to consume me. I sought to numb everything within me and became seriously addicted. Self-hatred and isolation became me. Since being incarcerated I’ve decided to change. I’ve had a lot of time to think clearly and to learn about who I want to be. I’ve heard of this statement,” you teach people how to treat you,” and I’ve latched onto it and made it into my new motto. No longer will I wait for love to find me, I’ll become love by forgiving and letting go of all that has been killing me. I now seek to help others who are like me and have gone through trauma and suffer from addiction. I’ve been gaining every bit of knowledge and experience to further help myself and others. Too many people who are just trying to survive their pain are locked away and being robbed of life because the state lacks the programs to help them, so instead they are sent to sit in a prison for years. I’m going to do what I can see about getting some of these programs started once I’m released. I’ve found a purpose worth living for. Where there is a will, there is a way. I’ll prove to the world that I’m not just a number or a statistic, my past doesn’t define me. People treat you like scum when you’ve been incarcerated or they discover you’re an addict. I’m both and I know I’m not scum. I have a big heart and for so long I’ve had it closed off, but it’s opening up now and I’m trying to make a life changing difference for not only myself, but for many others. I think being incarcerated and the efforts by the guards to do whatever as often as possible to dehumanize us, is what lit the fire within me.

Lamar, 34

Lamar, 34

Meet Lamar…

This woman was the answer to my prayers. I thought I just needed a penpal but I got a mother. I call her my Godmother and I truly love her as if she made me.

Lamar, 34
Incarcerated: 13 years
Housed: East Arkansas Regional Unit, Marianna

I gave up on life because I wouldn’t be living anymore; I’d only be existing. I envied others who got all the mail, visits and talked on the phone. I left my daughter when she was eight and I get out when she’s 28. Prison can be a lonely, cold and bitter place. I’d attempted suicide before but I lived through it, so I lied about what made me nearly die. This is my second prison term. My first term I served seven years. I felt I deserved this hell. I felt I deserved the mistreatment from officers and my peers, too. I didn’t shave, exercise, or write home. I crawled into a shell. I thought to myself, “This is God’s will.” Until one day, I wrote to a bookstore asking them to donate some books. I received a letter from a woman named Claire. Since that day, two years ago, she has made it a point to write to me every week no matter what. She sent photos and I’ve even called her.

This woman was the answer to my prayers. I thought I just needed a penpal but I got a mother. I call her my Godmother and I truly love her as if she made me. She stayed on me (in a good way.) She’s very religious and very loving. I love my real mother but I have two of them now. Claire stayed on me about getting a GED and I did it, I did not want to but I did it. She encouraged me to write a book. And I did it. In fact, I just finished my second book. I haven’t found a publisher, but I’m proud of my accomplishments. Some days are hard, but she stays with me. I thank God for this woman. God didn’t give me what I wanted but he gave me what I needed. I’m somebody and I’m not forgotten.

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