Stephanie Nodd loves her job. She’s an inventory specialist at a trucking company, Action Resources. She recalls how happy she was in her interview to hear her future boss say, “Everybody makes mistakes, and everybody deserves a second chance.”
Stephanie’s own second chance came after more than two decades behind bars. In 2011, at 42, she was released nine years early from a 30-year sentence because of changes to sentencing laws.
When she was 23 and a single mother trying to make ends meet, Stephanie became involved with a drug dealer in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, and shortly after was convicted for her role in a drug conspiracy. “I had never been in trouble in my life. I made that mistake, and it cost me 21 years,” she says now.
Reflecting on her freedom, she says, “Second chances means, to me, getting the opportunity to be back with your family. Back out in the free world, getting a chance to just prove yourself. That you made a mistake; now you got a chance to correct it.”
During her time in prison, while away from her family and her community, Stephanie worked tirelessly earning her GED, taking college courses, obtaining her forklift license, getting culinary certification, and graduating from computer programming. She has used many of those skills in her current job, and now dreams of building a home from the ground up, of continuing to work, and of owning her own business one day.
A second chance has allowed Stephanie to reconnect with her five children—one of whom she delivered while in shackles at the beginning of her sentence. They’ve become so close since her release, in fact, that Stephanie jokes that her sons’ girlfriends get jealous because of how frequently they call their mother.
Her family has continued to grow, to the point that, Stephanie says, “I almost forget how many grandkids I have, I got so many of them!” Because of her job, Stephanie travels frequently and will often bring members of her extended family along with her to places like Houston or New Orleans.
Stephanie recalls nights in the dorms hearing other women crying and thinking, “You just don’t know what a person is going through.” Her experiences, sensitivity, and commitment to reform and justice informs her advocacy work now. She uses her second chance to speak up for those women left behind. She meets with lawmakers, testifies on panels, and speaks with the media as often as she can.
For those still living within the system, she offers this: “Keep your head up and don’t lose the faith, because a change will come. It took me 21 years, but it will come. Stay strong, keep your head up, and don’t lose the faith. Keep hope alive.”
Listen to FAMM’s Alexia Pitter talk to Stephanie about how much her second chance has meant to her and her community: