On Monday, May 20, 2013 I was graciously able to return to the Lockhart Women’s Prison on behalf of Truth Be Told. I went in for a Let’s Get Real class to tell my story and the truth about re-integration back into society and the community I belong to. What worked for me and what doesn’t work for me. What life is like now…after my release.
I know this sounds unfamiliar to some, but since I was once an inmate at Lockhart, it was truly amazing to walk back through those doors to tell the beautiful women there that they are loved and appreciated. Since my release in 2009, not a day has gone by that I do not think of the women inside those walls. When I speak in public…I try to be a voice for them and as I live my daily life, I try to set a good example for them and of them. It’s nice to put faces to some of the women that I think about.
As they entered the room that Carol, Tracy and I were in, I was in awe. I saw myself in every lady there. I remembered the prison uniform and it was as if I felt I was wearing it again. I saw their shoes and remembered mine and how at the time I longed for a pair of Nikes or flip-flops. They all had come to class prepared, excited, and ready to learn and listen. I was there not too long ago and this time I felt very comfortable. It was an unexplainable feeling. I was at ease and I wanted God to speak through me and tell them everything they needed to know. I wanted to tell them that they are valuable and precious and there is a place for them.
I hope that they got as much out of it than I did. Those beautiful women made my year. I got so much joy out of being there and being able to spend time with them and talk with them. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave. I could’ve spent the night. In truth, they are so pure now and practicing and using the tools of this program that when they are released…they will be assets to themselves, their family, and their communities. They had many questions and comments that I hope I answered completely and clearly enough.
Time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to go. Like I said about spending the night, I had to play the whole picture out. It’s rather easy to make a comment like that when you’re free. However, all I wanted when I was in there doing my sentence was to spend a night at home. I grew up within those walls….I know everything was and is exactly as it should’ve been and should be.
I always had a fear that I’d return to prison. That fear is gone…I have returned to prison, it just wasn’t the way I feared. I have walked in their shoes, I have worn the uniform, and I have taken the classes. I have returned and I will forever be a/the voice for those whose voice cannot be heard, whose hearts cannot be read,and whose path and journey is only getting better. I thank Truth Be Told…but I thank the wonderful and strong women more, that embrace the program and embrace change. Those that show up for the classes. Those that are showing up for life. They and they alone are my inspiration and foundation that people can and do change. That we can return to our communities and be assets to them and all those around us. Our lives…our story is truly a gift.
In closing, I am so grateful that I was fully present that day…and that I was respectfully listened to and that they shared their time with me.