My name is Loretta Simons, I’m 52 years old. I gave birth to 5 children but my 3rd child died of SIDS when she was 4 months old. I started doing drugs when I was 13 years old, I dropped out of high school at 17 and have spent the majority of my life partying and doing drugs. My oldest son was adopted by my parents when he was 2 years old and I was unable to see him again until he was 12 years old (my parents lived in Florida). I was arrested in 1997 for smuggling weed across the country and was sent to F.P.C. Alderson in Alderson, WV. I completed 4 years on a 5 year sentence. When I got out of prison, I moved to Florida and stayed there for 2 years then moved back to Maryland.
I managed to stay clean for 3 years while on Federal supervised release but made no true accomplishments and once I was no longer under supervision, I went back to my old ways. In 2006 my home was raided and I was incarcerated for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. I received a sentence of 7 years with 3 years probation suspended. I went to the Tuerk House in order to get clean from my crack and heroin addiction but I only stayed there for 10 days and walked out. I did drugs and ran from the law for about 8 months and was then arrested. I was sentenced to 2 years for a violation of Probation and was sent to the city jail and then transferred to Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW).
It was at MCIW that I learned about the Turn About Program (TAP) and requested an interview. In January ’08, I was interviewed by Michelle and Rachel and that’s when my life changed. I was accepted into the program and released in March ‘08. I was then sent to the Tuerk House to do a 28 day program (this time I stayed) and then went onto the Nilsson House for 6 months; however, I used after the first two months and decided to confess and the next day I was send back to the Tuerk House for 14 days. Thanks to the TAP program, I was allowed to return to the Nilsson House (my 6 months started over). During my time in the Nilsson House I completed a 7 month typing program and then went on to do an 8 week culinary course. I was able to pass my Serve Safe test and get my certificate.
I’m no longer in the Nilsson House and I graduated the Tuerk House program in December. The TAP program helped me to get a room in the Women Housing Coalition and I am working part-time for a catering service. I’m slowly building a relationship with my children and I feel better about myself then I ever have. I would like to thank Mary Joel Davis, Michelle Kelly, and Rachel Kirby for having faith in me and encouraging me to have faith in myself without them and the TAP program, none of this could have been possible.