Recent research shows that the number of women being put in prison is increasing at twice the rate of men. One-third of these women to prison on drug charges; two-thirds are mothers to small children. I never really thought about women in prison. Until about 4 years ago.

My daughter, age 25, is currently serving time in a correctional center.  She is not there on drug charges, however her issues stem from prescription drug addiction.  My daughter is an intelligent, loving and creative person – when she is drug free. When pills are involved, she is a completely different person.  I guess this is typical behavior when someone is addicted.

Most of her growing up years, my daughter was a typical kid.  She excelled in school, was involved in extracurricular activities at school and in the community, and active in church. She dreamed of being a doctor.  Her father and I are divorced and she has a younger brother who is severely affected by autism, but for the most part, she handled these things fairly well.  She was always a happy girl, funny too.  I remarried when she was 14 to someone she insisted I meet.  He was, and still is, a good father figure to her and her brother.  So what happened?

When she was 15, I had to remove her from the Public School system due to issues surrounding a teacher on staff who has a history of having
sex with students.  We pushed the issue to get it addressed, but nothing was ever done.  We went to the School Board.  I wrote to people on a State and National level.  Bottom line, we couldn’t prove it, so there was nothing we could do about it.

One day in particular, my daughter left school and we couldn’t locate her.  Because of her depressed state we worried that she would commit suicide.  Turns out she had been to the High School administration office, to the Superintendent’s office, to the School Board President’s office and lastly, to see our attorney at the time.  All of these adults told her the same thing: they could not help her.  There was “nothing they could do.”  Is it any wonder she has so little respect for authority?  The people she counted on to help her – including myself and my husband – were unable to.

She went into a deep depression and in the interest of her well-being, I removed her from public school to be home schooled until she was old enough to get her GED.  Looking back, this was probably the worst thing I could have done, but it seemed there were no other options.  Surrounding schools wouldn’t take students not living in their district, I couldn’t afford to put her back in private school, and leaving her at our public school was not an option.  Having lost her circle of friends and support system, which would be traumatic for any teenager, she began to hang out with older kids who were already out of school.  She was in pain and unfortunately she found unhealthy ways of dealing with it.

We insisted she get her GED and go to work.  She was loved at her jobs, but she was already addicted to the prescription medications.  It wasn’t long until she was in legal trouble, and that just seemed to snowball.  Next thing we know, she is in prison for fraudulent use of a credit card in the amount of around $4500.  No Boot Camp, no court-ordered drug treatment program, she went straight to a maximum security prison.  She was locked up with people you worry about as a parent.  Murderers, female sex offenders, drug manufacturers and dealers.  Her cellmate was a second time offender there for manslaughter and abuse of a corpse.  Shortly after enrolling her (maybe 2 months) in a long term  Therapeutic Community program they sent her home without having finished either the treatment program or her cosmetology certificate.  She had been there for over a year.  Upon release, a condition of her parole was to finish her cosmetology course.  Of course, it was the same for the other young women released so she ended up being surrounded by the people she most needs to avoid – other felons, specifically those she knew on the inside.

Please do not misunderstand; I truly believe my daughter – and anyone else who violates the laws of our society – needs to be held accountable for her actions. But I also believe people make stupid mistakes. And given the correct knowledge and tools, can overcome those mistakes.  My daughter was out in the “free world” as she calls it for almost a year before she was arrested on a parole violation.  They sent her back to prison for six months.  She then came back to await sentencing and was sent back again.  This time she was high on Klonopin.  Is it really in the best interest of our society to keep sending women like my daughter to prison?  And if we must send them to prison, shouldn’t we make a TRUE effort to give them the help they need to come out and have a fighting chance at being successful?  Otherwise, we may as well equip our prisons with revolving doors.

Oh, and that teacher I mention above…she is sitting on a beach right now.  Vacationing before she is back in school next month, standing in front of your child in the classroom, attempting to provide them with an education.  That’s a topic for another time.

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Comments
  1. I agree~our prison system is messed up, in need of massive reform. I believe people need help to change and live well in the free world above punishment and exile. Only the worst~the ones who don’t want to change and constantly harm others~should be exiled. The point of exile being just to contain them from everyone else so they can’t harm. Punishment is ridiculous to me. People have free will and will do whatever they want despite whatever you do to them, they’ll just try harder not to get caught. You can’t punish them into doing or not doing what you want them to, especially once they’re adults. If you punish them harder, you only degrade yourself. Revenge is pointless. Help and true justice is what this system should be about. It shouldn’t be a “prison” system, a punishment system.

  2. You seem to have an excellent grasp of what happened and is happening to your daughter. I hope she pulls herself away from addiction and can undo the damage done to her by the prison system. (That place doesn’t do anyone any good.) She is lucky to have a parent like you.

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