I was born and raised in Baltimore Maryland with 5 siblings…4 brothers and 1 sister. My parents were married for 24 yrs before their divorce. In 1997, I was incarcerated for the first time for a carjacking that I did not commit. It was then I began using drugs, and I used them, until they began using me. I started out using to get high, and ended up, only to feel normal…to do everyday things. I got locked in 1999 for my first drug charge and they followed endlessly after that. I was incarcerated over 25 times, only serving prison time 3 times. In 2000, I was incarcerated for a violation of probation and was sentenced to two (2) 12 yr sentences; the other charge was for possession with the intent to distribute. I was sent to Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, where I stayed for 2 ½ years.
When I received my time, the judge stipulated that before I could be released, I had to be accepted in a long-term treatment program. I wrote to the Marian House and was ultimately interviewed and accepted into their program. I had also heard of the TAP at Alternative Directions, Inc. program from other inmates. They praised the program and shared how they meet needs of most women that participate. Through much consideration, I knew this was what I needed if I REALLY wanted to give myself a change. I learned that “if nothing changes, then nothing changes”. I wrote to the program and was interviewed and accepted. They went to court with me and spoke up for me.
TAP saved my life!! Literally. They walked me through every step of my process and believed in me more than I believed in myself. I was immediately sent to the Tuerk House, a 28-day drug treatment program. It was there the I learned that drugs weren’t my problem…I was the problem. Drugs were just a symptom of my problem. This program really opened my eyes and I am so grateful to AD for the experience. They also aided me with a MTA bus pass to make it to various appointments such as doctor’s appointments, parole/probation, internship in Towson etc. When I could not find employment, I was set up with a 90 Internship at a law firm in Towson, and upon completion, I was hired for a half-time position. It’s been 6 yrs. and I am still employed there today. The staff at Alternative Directions genuinely believed in their clients…cared for them and you got a sense of that. You were always inspired to do your best, not to take on more than you can chew…be true to yourself. Alternative Directions afforded me the opportunity to chip away at the barriers that ex-offender leaving prison after me. I am working with a group of men and women who have experienced incarceration either personally or in their family. Out For Justice organizes former prisoners, family’s of prisoners and supporters of criminal justice to work to try and change unjust laws and policies which hinders ex-offenders of successful reentry. The group has been very successful thus far and those whom I work with are wonderful. It’s because of Alternative Directions, that I am alive today. I truly believe that had it not been for them, and the knowledge I received coming through my process, I would have been just another statistic. Today, I am a very successful member of society.
This time instead of doing the same things I always did, I listened. I stopped bucking the system and gave myself a chance. I stopped going around the same old people, doing the same things. I got a job, focused on my children. I set goals and took baby steps to achieve them…but I did achieve them. I reminded myself that it’s not only me…everything I do has a ‘cause and effect’. I remained vigilant. I was able to obtain certification in Human Services. I was able to have my story heard with an article in the Baltimore Sun and several interviews with various news stations and a morning radio show.
Today, I am the Leadership Development Organizer for Out for Justice, a project of Alternative Directions, Inc. We are currently working to becoming a non-profit organization.
I am the Office Manager of a law firm, where I have been employed for 6 yrs. I have two wonderful grandchildren and was blessed to be sober when they were born.
My future is very promising, as long as I remain vigilant and un-deterred. I do see myself accomplishing every goal I have set for myself. I make it my business to ALWAYS give back the other women entering TAP, when the opportunities present themselves.