I’m a contradiction in terms: former University of Texas grad, former educator, former business owner, former community leader, former inmate at Arizona State Prison. With all those “formers,” what am I doing now?
Now I’m living my passion, working almost 24/7 to build GINA’s Team. Gina was my young roommate in prison. Yes, prison. Her death at 25 of medical neglect followed by a long prison journey changed my life and gave me my passion.
I know that “Education, not incarceration, is the cheapest form of crime prevention.” Our organization is dedicated to bringing education behind the wires with speakers, workshops and classes. Each semester we have amazing interns from AZ State University dedicated to this passion. These wonderful young women and men stun me with their dedication and ability to leap tall buildings while juggling laptops, cell phones, class schedules and a social media life.
And speaking of social media, remember that from 2002 to 2009 I basically lived in a cave. No internet connection AT ALL. Think how the internet grew during that period. I continue to learn as fast as I can, infinitely grateful for anyone who feels pity on me and volunteers to help guide me through the social media maze. I thought I was doing well when I got two email accounts. Then I joined Facebook but I kept forgetting to post updates. Next it was Twitter but I kept forgetting to Tweet. And now I have this blog. Thanks to young and very technical friends, I love this miracle of connections. After many years, friends from around the world have reconnected with me on Facebook. Brilliant.
Yes, I have a memoir, The Slumber Party from Hell, a true story of turning pain in to power. It’s a very intimate view of prison life, from cells to birthday parties to strip searches. Come on, admit it. You’re curious. It’s also a tool to examine what we are doing to human beings in our country and why it is costing so much. It will cause you to ask some probing questions about your own “prison.”
My blog takes you on my journey from prison to freedom, from pain to power. I thought prison was the most difficult thing I’d ever experience but I was wrong. The death of my husband was. I believe sharing our stories, failures, successes, strengths, vulnerabilities, joys and sorrows, empower us and empower those who hear us. There are plenty of places to hear all the negative stuff that fills our lives (like the nightly news). This is not that place. This is where you come for inspiration and positive stories about successful journeys. Everyone has a story. What’s yours? I’d love hear it.