Keshia, 42

Keshia, 42

Meet Keshia…

If I only get the chance to be outside again, to get my freedom back, to be able to hug my kids,  I would never lose that part of my life again. I promise. 

Incarcerated:  5 years
Housed: Fluvanna Correctional Center – Troy, Virginia

I’ve been a nurse since 2004. I had two beautiful children. I was a hard working mother and the best mother I could be. I wanted to make them proud of me. I lived life trying to do everything right. I never thought for one second that I would have to live life without my kids. I miss being a mother. I have the best kids in the world, ones a mother could ever pray for! I love taking care of my kids. We were each other’s best friends. When I was outside my whole life was to work hard to become successful. To be the best mother my children could ask for. I realize the things I took for granted, memories that come to mind when I reminisce. They sometimes bring tears to my eyes. Being incarcerated makes me pray harder for myself and my children. I was so broken and so were they. I taught them to pray when all else fails. As a praying mother, I’m still a part of the outside through my children. I’m included in their life as if I never left. I’m now the grandmother of a beautiful baby girl. God has shown me that my kids would be awesome while I am gone. I am ;proud of them. Everything I taught them while I was on the outside would make them stronger and unbreakable with the unfairness of life. If I only get the chance to be outside again, to get my freedom back, to be able to hug my kids,  I would never lose that part of my life again. I promise.

 

Angel, 42

Meet Angel…

…My time here is coming to an end. I’ve survived it all, and now freedom is within reach. I feel as though this is all I’ve ever known. I wonder if it will ever be out of my system. I’ve refused to let prison make me or shape me, I’ve stayed un-institutionalized.

Incarcerated: 22 years
Housed: Fluvanna Correctional Facility, Troy, Virginia

Survivors

Once we’re born, we struggle to survive in many different ways. We start by scooting in order to move around, and then we start to crawl. Before too long we’re off running. Sometimes we run to nowhere, sometimes everywhere, but other times we run for our life. We run to get away. We all perceive things differently, so often we don’t see or comprehend what the situation is teaching us. We just think the world is out to get us. Some stay on top of the water, scared to get wet, while others will get in, but then doggy paddle through. Few of us venture into the water’s depth to see what’s really there.

We are all united by pain and love. They don’t differentiate between races or cultures. They speak the same language. We were created by God to live, to learn and to enjoy life, but most of us continued to take everything for granted. Yes, most of us have known the hands or words of hatred, bigotry, racism or abuse of some kind.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a God or that He doesn’t care. God gave us all free will, and with evil roaming the earth, it, unfortunately, corrupts people’s minds, but God gives us the strength to survive, not to be anyone’s victims.

We are survivors who couldn’t be broken so we can share our stories and save the life of someone else who’s unable to see the light through the darkness. We all feel alone sometimes, but we’re not just reaching out a hand. Someone is there. So spread your wings and fly. It’s ok.

You are a survivor.

Grief and Pain, I’d like to let people know that there are people here who do understand. That there is a light in the darkness. I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to submit work.

Freedom

Freedom is such a simple word, yet it stands for so much more. People fight wars for freedom. People escape countries for it. As for myself, I didn’t realize the special gift it was until I got locked up. I was in a prison cell at the age 20, when I realized I’d been in prison all my life. I’d suffered abuse at the hands of the ones who were meant to love and protect me. I didn’t realize the shackles my mind wore from it all. I didn’t like the person I saw in the mirror. I learned the hard way that no one could love me if I didn’t love myself first. I also quickly saw that I didn’t respect myself or know my worth. I hadn’t been taught any principles or values that parents are supposed to teach you.

I started a long journey of fixing and repairing broken pieces, trying to break free. My time here is coming to an end. I’ve survived it all, and now freedom is within reach. I feel as though this is all I’ve ever known. I wonder if it will ever be out of my system. I’ve refused to let prison make me or shape me, I’ve stayed un-institutionalized. I look forward to being really free, but everyone takes things for granted. To me, freedom means so much, but actually being free from even the chains of my mind will be a taste of heaven I’ve never known.

My first day out, I want real food, a nice shower to wash the prison away, to walk around without shackles or an officer, to watch the stars as they come out and breathe in the fresh air of freedom. I stand strong and healthy knowing I’m wonderfully made by God, who loves me and who I now know intimately. I will walk out these gates as a woman of God, a woman of worth and a survivor, I walk into freedom.

Chanell, 41

Chanell, 41

Meet Chanell…

I refer to my two awesome boys as my “Young Kings,” because not only are they kings by nature, but they’re also the kings of my heart.

Nothing is more important to me than my role as a mother.

Having been incarcerated for fifteen years of a nineteen year sentence, being a better mom and becoming the woman God ordained me to be, has been paramount and the inspiration behind all that I do.

In thinking about role models, I would have to give that honor to my mother Robin and my aunt Sharon. It is my aunt Sharon who I want to focus on now. The women in my family are strong and not easily broken by life’s circumstances.

Thankfully for me, I was born into such strength. Sharon was serving a life sentence, but by the judgment of man, that sentence was overturned by the Most High Judge, God.

My aunt served 33 long years before gaining her freedom. As a child, I made many trips with my family to visit her in the prisons which kept her physically bound. All the while not really knowing how free she truly was on the inside!

Liberation, true liberation, starts within. Many are free physically, yet still bound internally. My aunt has a care-free spirit which enables anyone who encounters her to embrace her. To know her is to love her! And that positive energy, faith, and optimism is in my opinion, what sustained her through a journey of over three long decades behind concrete walls.

I had to learn from her what it meant to be free on the inside. We were blessed to be able to reside together here in the same housing unit. She taught me how to serve my time in a way that made it count instead of only counting days. By her example, I learned to maximize the moment. And by her faith, I grew in mine because I see how God can shift a situation and do what I always thought would never happen growing up traveling the roads to visit her: my Auntie going home!

So let that be a lesson to anyone presently incarcerated. Never give up hope! You never know what God has in store for you. Don’t put your hope in man!

Gwendolyn, 47

Gwendolyn, 47

Meet Gwendolyn

Prison Lives Matter

We are Breona Taylor
George Floyd
Freddy Gray
and so many more.
We can’t breathe!

The only difference, ours started on the inside. 

We sit here, day after day, calling out to people who are not there. 

We look for help that we will never get. 

We cry out for ourselves and the pain that we see in each other. 

We are losing this fight one breath at a time! 

But we’re begging for some oxygen! 

Please help us! 

Please speak to us! 

Please fight with us! 

PLEASE… Help… US… Breathe!

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