Hear From System-Impacted Women

Hannah Overton

I think contact with children should be allowed, even in child cases, but the visit should be carefully monitored. I lived in a maximum security prison for 7 years. Most, if not all of the women I encountered, would never be a threat in a visiting room. When deciding which unit to place a women in, I think the distance from her children should be considered. Phone calls should be affordable, so everyone has access, and I believe the phone system should be much easier to set up, since the current system is often difficult for the families to understand.

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Evelyn Fulbright

I had a severe cocaine addiction for 15 years.Instead of offering some type of drug treatment, I was put on probation without services and then revoked. I cycled through the system because I had a drug problem and my root issues weren’t being addressed. Today, I am a nurse at a drug rehab center. God saved me out of that world, and then brought me back to help others.

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Angelica Rangel

I had a hard pregnancy. I had gestational diabetes, and the doctors just want you in and out. I couldn’t get my medical needs met like I could’ve if I had a regular doctor. When you go to medical appointments, you are shackled at your hands and your feet. What I was going through wasn’t important to them.  The guards think you’re using your pregnancy as an excuse, there is no compassion. You don’t get milk, and my teeth started decaying. Sleeping is so much harder on those thin mats. Pregnancy is hard on your body, and they don’t take care of those needs. You only have what they give you.

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Destiny Harris

My childhood was cut short because I had to become my own parent. I made myself go to school. I was working 3 jobs at one point. My mom wasn’t there to take care of me, so I had to take care of myself. During one of my mom’s incarcerations, I was molested. Had she been there, I wouldn’t have been in that situation and she could’ve protected me. Locking her up, when she was no threat to public safety, put me and my siblings at risk.

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Lauren Johnson

My darkest day wasn't in prison, it was in jail. The day I had to leave the hospital after having my baby to go back to jail and leave him with my aunt is probably the day I would characterize as one of the most difficult in my life. I can't recall ever hurting that much in any other situation. I was placed in a medical holding cell alone and couldn't stop crying.

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Murphy Anne Carter

One of the first problems that I would change would be the parole system. How many women I see come back, even after a few months of having left, is shocking. You can read about recidivism rates until the cows come home, and not really comprehend it until you see the look on someone’s face when you see them back inside.

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Annette Price

I just want my experiences to be a help for women coming out. I’ve been through a whole lot, but I keep getting back up every time I’m knocked down. I’ve done my time; I’ve done everything the court system told me to do. I wish they would just let me live my life, but they won’t. I was just denied my application to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency counselor because there is a lifetime ban on my conviction. I have two masters, and one of them is specifically for that—I have a masters in it, but can never use it because of my criminal history.

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Katie Ford

If I could wave a magic wand and change the criminal justice system overnight, I would make it a system that more fully and meaningfully embraces the principles of restorative justice, meaning that the objective of putting people in jail or prison would be to immerse them in programs and services that empower them to stop harming themselves and others in society.

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Tanya Hale

We were told not to hug or touch - any physical contact was treated as a sexual offense. That needs to change, because people need that contact. Everyone needs support and simple human contact, especially while going through treatment.  Anyone fighting cancer should be given access to clean living conditions, regular showers, appropriate medical care, and contact with their loved ones. Incarceration should never strip a person of these basic necessities, especially while undergoing treatment. Incarceration should not strip a person of their dignity. That is not rehabilitative and it is not humane.

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Kristie Mayhugh

If I could change anything about the Texas criminal justice system, I would change the rehabilitation process for those who are incarcerated by providing better and more education programs. I would improve the process for reentry back into society by making sure people had job skills, support to find jobs, a place to stay, and transportation.

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Lori Mellinger

The most challenging thing upon reentry was getting everything I needed to start my new life: documents, an ID, a Social Security card, clothes, transportation to and from appointments, etc. Once I got through those things, I felt like I was on better footing to tackle the rest of my issues.

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Natalie Baker

The system doesn’t prepare you for freedom. For the first few years after release, the most difficult aspect was living with the felon label. As a convicted felon, you are forever a second-class citizen, and the social stigma against you is a very real thing.

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Karen Keith

My personal journey into prison cost me everything I value most - my 3 children and 3 grandchildren. The system does not just send a person to prison, it tears a family apart - sometimes permanently, and there are no services to reunite those families once a sentence is completed.  For many of us, our families are lost to us.

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