“I hereby sentence you to the Indiana Department of Corrections for a period of four (4) years” are words that I have heard numerous times in my almost twenty years of practicing law in Marion, Indiana. I have represented thousands of people and I never was comfortable or liked seeing anyone must hear those words of imprisonment. I hated when my clients had to be incarcerated. In fact, that was why I became a criminal defense attorney after starting my legal training with the Grant County Prosecutors Office as an intern. When I was an intern, I tried a jury trial and the defendant was found guilty and sentence to prison. Afterward, I was distraught for having played a huge role in sending someone to prison and I vowed to never do that again. Thus, I became a public defender and a criminal defense attorney whose passion became advocating for the accused. I tried too many bench and jury trials to count. I filed numerous appellate briefs and even argued cases in the Indiana Court of Appeals and once I had the honor of arguing a case in the Indiana Supreme Court - - forever changing the Attorney Work-Product law in the State of Indiana.
I loved my career. I loved my clients. I loved being a part of the system against incarceration. I loved helping people. I loved getting people out of jail early. I love being in the Courtroom. I loved trials of all kinds. I hated sentencing hearings because that usually meant that my client would hear these awful words . . . “I hereby sentence you to the Indiana Department Corrections” - - that was always the worst part of the career that I loved and eventually lost.
Come to find out it’s just as bad - - OKAY, WORSE when it’s me who hears those same exact words before being led off in handcuffs and shackles down the same hallways I walked as an attorney. On December 18, 2015 that is exactly what happened. I was sentenced to the Indiana Department of Corrections for a period of four (4) years.
I was broken.
I was addicted.
I was alone.
I was a felon.
I was a mess. . . okay, a HOT MESS . . . a TRAINWRECK
I didn’t care if I lived or died. It was that bad. Funny, I vowed to never put someone in prison after that trial I did as an intern and I was successful at that my entire career until my addiction got the best of me and I ended up putting myself in prison. To be rigorously honest - - meth, crack, heroin, pills, alcohol, cocaine, and a life not worth living already had me incarcerated emotionally and spiritually so the physical incarceration was simply a change in zip codes.
I imprisoned myself. I was a prisoner of brokenness (still am), shame, and guilt. Judge Young just followed through with what I already started and sent me away . . . come to find out – to heal.
You already know what happened in prison and the transformation that took place. I mean I don’t like to brag but I AM A MIRACLE - - PERIOD.
God transformed me, changed me, saved me, and freed me. I prayed daily for things like forgiveness, freedom, surrender, thy will be done, love, empathy, compassion, and on and on. I promised God to always tell others what He had done for me and what He continues to do every single day.
TODAY… I am two years free from prison. I went back there yesterday, and you can see my pictures of that on my Facebook page. 😊
Since my release this is what God has done in my life:
· I am sober today and have been for over 40 months
· I am reunited with ALL my family and remarried
· I have mended friendships and made friends out of enemies
· I have learned to trust GOD, to listen for HIS whispers, and to walk by faith
· I listen more and talk less
· I joined College Wesleyan Church
· I mentor men in the Churches Embracing Offenders Program
· I sponsor men in their own walk of recovery
· I am a certified recovery coach
· I visit jails and share my message even though I am a person who is STILL on probation and has a felony conviction – that is a miracle in itself.
· I help people find their own recovery story and teach them how to tell it
· I work at Milestone Addiction Services and work closely with the Grant County Drug Court and Grant County Re-Entry Court
· I have shared what God has done for me all over social media, radio stations, Television shows, podcasts, at businesses, corporations, churches, schools, universities, sidewalks, bathrooms, gas stations, in Wal-Mart, and a little place called the Honeywell Center, the Hope House, and just about everywhere you can imagine
· I have amazing friends today
· I love people well
· I love loving people until they are well and beyond
· There is not one thing that I have done that is NOT prefaced with the simple phase. . . BUT, GOD. I am #stupidgrateful to be able to say this.
What is next you say? I am in the process of starting sober living / transitional / recovery homes here in Grant County. It is in the planning stage, but I am faithful that God has a plan that is bigger than I could ever imagine. He’s already saved me from the biggest enemy I have faced – Me . . .
Today, I just take my own advice and pray for him to show me the way. . . Because if you are struggling, it’s okay…help is only a prayer away.
If you need to hear about what GOD can do in your life click HERE
To hear more about my story you can watch this short VIDEO created by Indiana Wesleyan University and Marion General Hospital.