In the span of a few years, I lost my job, lost my youngest son in a traffic accident, became a single mother of five, and lost my house to foreclosure. Out of desperation, I committed a nonviolent, first-time criminal offense—and due to a broken criminal justice system, I was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. I was told that the only way that I would ever be reunited with my family would be as a corpse.
It awakened in me a passion to make a difference. While in prison, I found women who were hungry for someone to believe in them. I started mentoring other women in theatrical productions. I became a hospice-certified volunteer so that I could care for and offer companionship to people so they would not die alone. I found that I could make a difference in someone’s life.
After spending 21 years in prison, my sentence was commuted, and I was released. I have been fighting for those who have been left behind ever since, fulfilling my promise to them that I would not forget about them when I was released.
I met this incredible person by the name of Mark Holden at Koch Industries. Mark has a passion for criminal justice reform like I’ve never seen before, and we’re using our voices to help magnify the need for reform. There are so many others like me who deserve a second chance and who just need someone to believe in them. I am but one person, but together we are many—and we can make a difference.