Shani, 39

Shani, 39

Meet Shani…

Being isolated forced me to look up. I began to seek God. I prayed and read the Bible. I committed to attending church services, Bible studies, and discipleship classes to build a relationship with God. I built relationships with men of faith to help me grow spiritually. I began to feel the presence of God in my life.

Incarcerated: 6 years

Housed: Patuxent Institution, Jessup, Maryland

I have been sentenced to 40 years for a non-violent drug offense. Before I came to prison I depended on illegal means to support my family. I always had high entrepreneurial aspirations to make a good living, but I had no knowledge or foundation. I believed I had to live a life of crime in order to survive. I thought I could make enough to start my own business and then fly straight. I was proven wrong. It landed me in prison, away from my family for a very long time. My whole life had changed. I lost everything. My family relationships were destroyed. My closest friends betrayed and abandoned me. I was left alone. I was in my darkest hour. The only thing I had left was my faith. Being isolated forced me to look up. I began to seek God. I prayed and read the Bible. I committed to attending church services, Bible studies, and discipleship classes to build a relationship with God. I built relationships with men of faith to help me grow spiritually. I began to feel the presence of God in my life. God began to provide me with all of my immediate needs. My relationship with my family began to be restored. They forgive me and the actions that lead me to prison. I won the visitation of my sons so I could have a relationship with them. Things began to turn around. I have educated myself by reading book after book on financial literacy. I now have a solid financial foundation so I don’t have to do the wrong things to earn a living. I no longer feel or think the same. I have broken the mental bondage I had to do the wrong things to make living. I am not where I used to be spiritually and mentally. I have grown. And I am ready to close this chapter in my life and make the next chapter my best chapter. I want to start an assisted living home for the elderly.

 

Kelly, 39

Kelly, 39

Meet Kelly…

I learned that I can’t be the hands on, disciplinarian father, so I adopted more of a big brother- dynamic. This creates a more comfortable atmosphere for him to come to me for advice, with his issues and growing pains.

Incarcerated: 12

Housed: Patuxent Institute, Jessup, Maryland

The best thing I did in life was have a son. He was two when I fell and I was a very active and loving father. Fast forward to his middle school days, his mom said I need to talk to him because he was fighting a lot. I ain’t really thinking too much of it, I figured boys will be boys, but when I asked him why he was fighting, he said people in his class googled him. We have the same name, his classmate’s internet search yielded my history. History of a terrible crime. Learning he was fighting for my ‘honor’ broke my heart. I remember crying a river from the embarrassment and hurt he experienced because of me. I changed the way I communicated with him. More honesty and transparency because I don’t want my son to learn from foreign and tainted sources of information. I learned that I can’t be the hands on, disciplinarian father, so I adopted more of a big brother- dynamic. This creates a more comfortable atmosphere for him to come to me for advice, with his issues and growing pains. By the grace of God, we have a strong relationship. The ironic thing is his mom hates that my son loves me…? Everytime he messes up she blames me/my influence and wont allow me to contact him. I guess it is easier to look through glasses than a mirror. I tell my son I love him often and I’m proud of him. I always stress the importance of teaching him how to think instead of what to think, the importance of evaluating situations before he acts and making good decisions. I remind my son to never allow his love for me to keep him from being better than me, or his loyalty to me keep him from surpassing me in life.

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