How long has it been since you were released?
My last release from prison happened on March 22, 2011. I spent 7 months (my shortest sentence ever) in state prison for what was effectively a relapse of drug use. Though this was my shortest sentence and the first time being incarcerated that I had visits, mail, phone calls and money on my books, it was also the hardest sentence to serve because I missed many milestones and celebrations with my babies.
Describe your life today and some recent highlights that you’re proud of.
My life today is breathtaking. We all get caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of life that we don’t celebrate the victories deeply enough, and I can find myself in the hustle and bustle because my life is really full and breathtaking.
In the past few years, I have seen many of my dreams come to life. I had dreamed about things like spending the night at the Schlitterbahn resort or going to Vegas and staying at the Luxor. I also wanted to see the law in Texas changed so that people with felony drug convictions would not be banned for life when they needed public food assistance. I have seen all those dreams come true.
Today, I work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas as the criminal justice outreach coordinator. Earlier this year, I became a published author, and I have been chosen for fellowships with local and national leadership organizations. I am also really proud of a summer cooking “program” that I started with my kids. They are tasked with going through our recipe books and choosing something to cook for a family dinner, writing the ingredients down so I can shop for them, and then — with help — cooking the meal. They love it because they get to choose a dessert, and I love the time we get to spend together doing something that is fun and teaches them to be independent.
What was your experience of Truth Be Told?
When I was at the Travis County women’s jail, I attended the weekly classes they offer there. The women who facilitate these programs just emanate love and acceptance to everyone they serve. And the supportive community that Truth Be Told creates for women on the inside is continued on the outside in a variety of ways and they are all invaluable. If you have the opportunity to be a witness at a Truth Be Told program graduation inside prison, I strongly suggest you do so. You will never be the same!
Statistics say that if someone is released and remains free for three years, the chances of returning to prison decrease drastically. One of the ways Truth Be Told supports women is by gifting them with a handmade quilt at their three-year mark. There is a sisterhood that exists with the community, and often that is a new foray for many of us — new, but welcomed.
Why are organizations like Truth Be Told important and worth supporting?
I think many people assume that there are an abundance of programs inside correctional facilities for people to take advantage of — just like it is assumed that people are living the easy life inside of prison with adequate nutrition and medical care. This is simply not the reality. Truth Be Told creates a space for women to build community and to experience healing in a way that they can overcome the internal barriers and move on to the external barriers of reentry.
Honor Lauren by helping Truth Be Told raise $20,000 in 10 Days between Sept 15-24. All gifts made during this 10-day campaign will DOUBLE in size, thanks to a matching pledge of up to $20,000! Your gift will ensure that Truth Be Told continues to provide safe community and healing programs to nearly 1,000 justice-involved women every year! Click on $20,000 in 10 Days to make your gift today!
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