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Lainey – “I Spent my entire life in a cage.”

$100K in 10 days – Featuring our Truth Be Told Graduate Lainey

Welcome to day 2 of our fundraiser. We are featuring a video and an accompanying blog for every one of our featured graduates. 10 stories in 10 days. All proof of the transformation that is possible when a woman is given the tools for transformation. 

Today we are featuring Lainey. Lainey grew up in prison. Literally. Grew. Up. 30 years behind bars. 

TBT: What do you want people to know about incarceration and the criminal justice system?

 

Lainey: It isn’t designed to heal and rehabilitate. It is designed to punish, break, and destroy. People don’t go to prison and “pay their debt to society,” nor “learn their lesson”. They go into prison and learn how to fight to survive. They learn how to manipulate, use, and intimidate to provide for basic needs that the state doesn’t. They learn how to live with rape, abuse, degradation, and deprivation. Prison doesn’t create better people, but better predators. The only people who come out of prison better, whole, and sane are those who were adept at keeping a low profile and took control of their own rehabilitation. Those who figured out a way to do the healing work on their own and took advantage of programs like TBT when/if they were lucky enough to be chosen to participate.

TBT: What is your favorite motto, saying, or phrase?

Lainey: “Failure is not an option.” I feel that I spent my entire life in a cage, and I have no time to waste trying to be successful. I have no savings, minimal education, and I don’t want to be 70 and struggling to get out of bed to go to work for 8 hours for a paycheck that won’t cover my bills. 

TBT: Out of all the work you did with TBT, what is the most memorable lesson or tool that you still use to this day?

Lainey: Communication and Self Care are the tools I most use. 

TBT: We are all one choice away from incarceration. Describe one choice from your past that put you on the path to incarceration.

Lainey: I have asked myself this question thousands of times over the years, and it wasn’t until TBT and the Talk to Me Writing class that  I discovered the truth. I let my anger and pride send me to prison. Yes, I defended myself. Yes, I was in a bad situation and preyed upon. But at the end of the day, I could have left. I could have walked away. But I was proud and stubborn and decided no one was going to victimize me again. So, I stood my ground when I should have left, and it destroyed many lives.

TBT: What are you excited about in your life now or looking forward to in the future?

Lainey: I am currently in training to be promoted to Executive Team Leader at work. This is a salaried position with an enormous amount of responsibility. It thrills me to be in this position after only two years at the company. This is the second job outside of prison I have ever had, and I love the company I work for. I have truly grown and thrived here and am looking forward to what comes next.

TBT: Tell us about your best and worst day in prison.

Lainey: Most people would likely say the worst was their first day inside, and while that was certainly horrible, it wasn’t the worst. The worst was about two weeks after arriving in TDCJ. My cellmate, who was much bigger and older than I was, tried to force me to have sex with her. At that time (1991), there wasn’t a Youth Offender Program in place, so I was housed with adults. I had turned 18 two days prior. When I went to report it, the guard I told took me into a room and sexually assaulted me. Afterwards, I went outside to the recreation yard and cried uncontrollably. My sentence had just begun, and I saw the years stretch out ahead of me…. I thought, “I would rather die than do this for the next 15 years.” I escaped from prison six months later.

The best day was undoubtedly the day I was released. I cried with joy when I walked out of the gates towards my husband’s truck. It felt surreal. Sometimes it still does.

It feels surreal for Truth Be Told staff and volunteers when we have the opportunity to witness moments of healing and transformation amongst the women we serve. Thanks to our donors who have kept us going for over 20 years, we continue to hear from women like Lainey. 

You can donate here and show your support for Lainey and other TBT graduates. Our $100K in 10 days fundraiser will continue until December 9. Up to $40,000 in gifts made during the 10 days, will be matched dollar-for dollar. Your donation helps disrupt the cycle of trauma and incarceration among women.