“We met in jail and got out yesterday. Now we are all that we have. God puts us in places for a reason. He’s an alcoholic and I am a drug addict. I am not going to let him drink and he is not going to let me do drugs. We are trying to help each other out.”
I don’t know if I can be a good influence on anyone, but what we have done doesn’t make us bad people. Everyone has done something in their life that could get them put in jail. I am not saying that what we have done is right, but I think any person who wants to judge us should spend some time in our shoes and live on the streets and see how they react. See if they are tempted to turn to drugs, alcohol, or crime.”
“While were were locked up, I lost my mom. Later I lost my brother, sister-in-law, their baby, and an unborn baby in a car wreck. It’s all in perspective. My shoes are out of a dumpster and my watch and phone don’t work. I have a lot of anger issues. Alcohol numbs the pain and pushes away the emotions. I try not to feel sorry for myself. I try not to get depressed and down, but alcohol is temporary relief. It is a different feeling than pain. It is hard on the streets. Sometimes you have to be harder than the streets. It makes you more ingenuitive, think harder, and plan your steps more carefully.
I am hardheaded. It is hard for me to get a job or do anything because I am on parole and if I get caught doing anything wrong, I am going back to jail. I have to deal with this every day. I can lay down and give up or be hardheaded and survive. I was in this time for felony evasion. I was drunk and didn’t pull over. I have been locked up in 10 states. I did 10 years in Texas. I escaped from the county jail and stole a police car to go see my daughter in the hospital. I was chief mechanic and could drive the car anywhere, but they wouldn’t let me go see my daughter in the hospital.
My dad was a crackhead and hung himself in 2014. My mom was an alcoholic. What can I do about it? I am following in her footsteps.”
“I got out of prison yesterday. This time I did four months for allowing an unauthorized person to operate a vehicle.”
“What is your plan?”
“There is no plan. How can you have a plan when there is nothing to start with? We are four hours from home and haven’t had anything to eat. They gave us a bus ticket to Jackson. I am wearing prison shoes and the other clothes we got out of a dumpster yesterday. We slept under a bridge last night and are trying to hustle up enough money to get a motel room tonight. It is depressing to be this way on Christmas. We want to get back to Tupelo. It is my fault I have been in and out of prison. I was on drugs and told my family I needed help, but they pushed me away. I have been clean for 120 days, but it is hard to get off of drugs. It is a demon and every day vice. It is a weakness and if I can get away from people doing it, I am good. I wish I had never started drugs. My dad died in 2013 of melanoma. I was just doing drugs on weekends, but my dad was all I had and after he died I went downhill fast.
The first time I went to prison was for breaking into houses. I had just graduated from high school and I idolized my older cousin. I picked him up and we went to a house in the country that was across the street from his house. I thought he was stopping by because he knew them, but he kicked the door in. I put the car in reverse, but couldn’t leave. I didn’t want to get made fun of for leaving him, and I made a dumb decision and went in with him. We got caught and he put it on me. I was sentenced to 20 years, but did 10 and got out. You can’t do 10 years in the penitentiary and then pick up where you left off. When I got out, I learned that my dad and aunt had cancer and then things went bad with my girlfriend and she got pregnant with my best friend. I couldn’t cope. I broke into houses, got some dope, and started running with the wrong people.
It’s the substance that makes you do dumb things. Me sober, I wouldn’t steal nothing from nobody. It’s low down and dirty to steal anything from someone who worked their butt off to get it. I can work my ass off like anyone else and get it myself, but instead I got high and took things from other people. That’s low down. That’s my crime. When I am on dope, I am a shitty person. I wouldn’t hurt you, but I would take something you worked hard for. The kids that live in those houses, I took their security away. That is where they felt safe. How are they going to feel safe after someone kicks their door in?
I hope that someone reads this and gets something out of it. I want to stay clean. I was raised better than this, but I made bad choices. I would rather live under a bridge and have nothing than hurt somebody, steal from somebody, or go back to prison. Anyone who has done time knows freedom is everything. I will figure out something.”
(Dec. 25, 2015 They were walked along the frontage road in front of our motel in Jackson, Mississippi. It was the second week of Souls. I walked up to them and there was a little nervousness on both sides in the beginning, but that was one of the first days I felt the powerful humanizing force of storytelling. As they talked through their life, the bad choices they made, and why, they began to see glimpses of good in themselves and I understood a little about the people behind the convictions. They left hopeful that maybe someone else would read their story and learn from their mistakes. I wish there was a better plan in the jail system to help people go in more positive direction after they were released.)