How do you define a person? Is it by the things they’ve done or by the things they are doing now? Could it be the values they hold within their heart? Perhaps defining a person requires knowing more about who that person is.
I was born from parents prone to addiction. My mother used drugs and my father battled alcoholism. They divorced when I was 2, but I grew up in a loving family. I graduated high school with honors and later became an EMT-Paramedic. For 7 years I saved lives.
I’m not sure if addiction is in my DNA, or if I had developed PTSD from the traumas I witnessed, but I started using marijuana and meth. That led to federal charges. This is my first time coming to prison. I received a 45-year sentence (due to mandatory minimums) for victimless crimes that involved only me. My guidelines only called for 10 years. I have already served 15 years.
I was 31 years old when arrested. I am scheduled to be released at age 70. I don’t know what I will do then. How will I survive? Will I be able to work? Will anyone hire me at that age? If not given a second chance now, taxpayers will be supporting me the rest of my life. That doesn’t feel right. I’d much rather take that burden on myself.
I miss my family. My daughter is growing up without me. Many loved ones have died, and most will pass away before my release. Priceless moments are being lost forever. My absence is a real void. Family members are struggling. They need me, and I desperately need to be there. Incarceration affects the entire family.
Prison is not a fun place. “Club Fed” does not exist. It is an overcrowded life of solitude. There are too many in limited space. It is loud and frustrating. I find relief by working in a factory (UNICOR). I spend my wages purchasing yarn, which I crochet into blankets and toys for those in my community. That is where I find purpose.
How do you define a person? How do you define me? Perhaps there is more to know.
— Gregory T.