Katherine, 34

Katherine, 34

Meet Katherine…

“I learned that my past mistakes gave me the power to live and to grow, no matter who I was or what I did”

Katherine, 34

Incarcerated: 11 years 

Housed: York Correctional Institution, Connecticut 

I have grown up so much in prison. I learned that my past mistakes gave me the power to live and to grow, no matter who I was or what I did. In prison, I finished high school, have enrolled in college and have been a mentor for the past three years. I am also in prison arts, where I am able to put my artwork for show. I really still have a lot to learn and a lot more to grow. But today I am proud of who I am as a woman of worth. My favorite saying is: Behind my prison walls, I can’t change the many years of yesterday,  but I can do something about my tomorrow.

Doraine, 66

Doraine, 66

Meet Doraine…

Prison is not designed to change a person; only you have the power to change yourself; you have to want to succeed.

Doraine, 66
Incarcerated: 5 years
York Correctional Institution, Niantic, Connecticut

I am a gospel singer behind the walls with locked doors and razor wires. Here I became the executive-producer of a gospel CD titled, “Raise the Praise, Live In Concert.” Our gospel group have been nominated seven times by Holla Back Gospel Music Awards with CEO Mr. Jerry Green. I have won several music awards including the McDonald Gospelfest Music Guinness Award by the legendary, Cece Houston, the late music icon, Whitney Houston’s mother.

I am not defined by my accused crime, I am not a number. I have learned I can prosper in the worst conditions; I am a survivor! Mary K. Blige’s producer, Edwin Ramos, assisted in building a recording studio behind these prison walls. Prison is not designed to change a person; only you have the power to change yourself; you have to want to succeed. You can be liberated and succeed and never forget where there is hope, there is purpose. To every reader, never give up!

Julissa, 49

Julissa, 49

Meet Julissa…

This is not my first time in prison. In 2006 I was sentenced to four years. I told myself I would never step foot in this prison again. But once again here I am.

Incarcerated: 5 months
Housed: York Correctional Institution – Niantic, Connecticut.

I have never touched a gun. My house was raided and they found 7 ½ pounds of marijuana. That wasn’t the real problem. It was the Tech-9 and extended clip they found. Losing my income from being sick with cancer led me back into selling drugs. As for the gun, I didn’t have knowledge of it being in my house. I wasn’t willing to tell them who’s gun it was, so I took the charge. I’m thankful to God and my lawyer because it could have been worse. I’m charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. This is not my first time in prison. In 2006 I was sentenced to four years. I told myself I would never step foot in this prison again. But once again here I am. I tried hard to live a life without crime and I succeeded for a long time. I am embarrassed and humiliated. I am a mother of five grown children and three grandchildren and here i sit in prison. I should be home in six months and can close this chapter and move on to more positive things with my children and grandchildren. Thankfully I still have a job, a home and a car. I’m fortunate to have a lot of support from family, friends and my fiancée. Believe me I see the struggle in here and it’s sad. There are women that could leave here tomorrow but have nowhere to go. Some don’t have any financial support. I consider myself fortunate. My body is here and my mind and spirit are home with my loved ones. I live outside of these walls. Julissa shared she purposefully did not enclose a picture of her in prison, because prison does not define her.

If the goal of my sentencing judge was to make me suffer for the remaining days of my life, then she succeeded. I wish the goal was for justice not to punish a man for life for an armed robbery of a Pizzeria with a toy gun and $149 to support a drug habit. Will I die un-mourned and a disgrace in the eyes of society?

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