“People are not what their mistake is. It’s how they overcome that mistake and move forward, and what they can accomplish after the mistake.” – Lynn Espejo
Lynn is proof of what she preaches.
In 2017, Lynn was imprisoned for fraud. About halfway through her 45-month sentence, in May 2020 she was placed on home confinement under the CARES Act. And then in January 2021, she was granted compassionate release.
Throughout her time behind bars, Lynn blogged about her experiences and injustices within the criminal justice system. She educated herself and campaigned. As she puts it, “I helped women fight false incident reports. I learned BOP policy so that I could help myself and others in that arena. I read a lot.”
Since her release, Lynn has built on these experiences and skills and is busy activist. She brings attention to injustices, such as male guards being allowed to do shower checks on incarcerated women. She writes for various platforms, and she has written a book about her experiences, Inside the Walls & Beyond: My Journey Through the Federal Criminal “In”Justice System. She advocates for women she left behind. She advises, listens, gives a shoulder to cry on, and serves a great source of important information to people both in and out of prison and their families.
“I made promises to women in prison that I would not forget you when I left. And I will never forget them. And I will never stop fighting for the women I don’t know,” she says.
“My voice continues to be louder, and I will never shut up until we see changes in our criminal justice system.”
Lynn is channelling the traumas she experienced in the system toward helping the mental health crisis among prisoners and returning citizens. She talks and writes about her own experiences inside, highlighting the benefits of therapy, raising awareness: “Most women and even men that I speak to, that I have helped on this side of the wall, have anxiety and a lot of trauma from what happened in prison.”
And she is determined to help individuals with their health directly; in April 2021 she earned her master’s degree in clinical and mental health counselling.
She missed one son’s graduation and another’s wedding while she was incarcerated, so since she’s been free she’s been laser-focused on her family. Yet she has still found time to help lead a program at her church to feed those going hungry and to work with the homeless.
And what next? “My voice continues to be louder, and I will never shut up until we see changes in our criminal justice system. It is time for a change. It’s time for us to become one voice. And the time is now.”
Lynn’s story is just one of several FAMM is highlighting of people who’ve gotten a second chance and are making their communities safer and stronger. Read more here.
Listen to Lynn describe her own trauma, how she’s healing now, and how she’s helping so many others: