I don’t want to go back to prison just because I don’t have a place to live

May 19, 2024

Today’s my day off. It feels amazing to be sitting out here on this bench. I got out of federal prison in April. Did five years for drug charges. Doing time during COVID was rough. The prison was short-staffed. We were locked down 24/7. They fed us rotten food–or food with weevils.

I tried to help the new girls coming in. Taught them the do’s and don’ts: don’t borrow, gamble, or bull dag. That means don’t get a girlfriend. Some women in there for life don’t care what happens to anyone else. I can’t stand seeing the weak get prayed on. My family did what they could, putting a little money on my books for hygiene products and coffee. No one was taking that from me; I didn’t back down from nobody. I know what it’s like having to beg for toilet paper and tampons. And ripping up sheets when we couldn’t get them. We rinsed the strips out in the sink and reused them.

Selling drugs was fast and good money. Now, I’m out here trying to survive. Legally. Being released from prison is a setup for failure. I went to a halfway house for ninety days, working and saving a little money before my release. Then I had nowhere to go. I’m working as many hours as possible cleaning rooms at one motel and paying $510 a week to stay at another one. Paying all I have for a roof over my head is paying for my freedom, but I can’t afford to keep going like this. I have to find a place to live before my savings run out, or I’m screwed. I’m on the waiting list for apartments around Mobile and the women’s shelter at Baldwin Family Village. I don’t want to go back to jail just because I don’t have a place to live.

The cost of everything went up while I was in prison. It costs $40 a day to take an Uber to work. There’s no more dollar menu at McDonalds. I’m reusing my water bottle and counting every penny. I don’t want to take anything from the government.

Just because we’re convicted felons doesn’t mean we’re bad people. I was raised better than this, but I made bad choices. I did my time and paid my debt–but it never goes away. I’m on parole for five years; my parole officer holds my life and freedom in his hands. I’m reporting every day. One more clean urinalysis and I can report once a month. It’s a good feeling to walk in knowing I’m going to walk out still free. There won’t be any problems.

I’m at the park feeding the squirrels because I don’t want to sit in a bar. My treat is ice. It feels so good to eat an ice cube again.

You don’t know how strong you can be until you have no choice but to be strong. Sometimes it’s day-by-day. Sometimes it’s minute-by-minute or squirrel-by-squirrel.”



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 More Southern Souls