The Lives Of Women Behind Bars (Part 3): An Essay by a First Time Female Offender

An education class for federal prisoners in the US

I remember what it was like in my early years as a first time offender. I remember the first day as if it were yesterday. I remember my first cellmate and the extreme violence of high security. It was difficult.

It was stressful.

Above all else, I remember struggling to come to grips with my new reality. I fought to regain footing in my life and I found myself grasping at shattered memories. Oftentimes I thought of giving up.

Eventually I found a new path. I developed a daily routine, exercised, and took to reading books. I immersed myself in programs and self-help classes, and joined inmate led organizations like the Jaycees, the Stamp Club, and the American Red Cross. I wrote short stories to pass the time and discovered how to write. Anything to redirect my attention and to keep moving forward.

From those early years I emerged anew. Through adversity I found direction and a new outlook on life. I’m one of the lucky ones. Many men and women don’t make it to this point.

Today’s guest writer is a woman named Brandy who is serving a life sentence in the state of Ohio. She’s early into her time, and in her essay you’ll hear echoes of some of the very things I’ve written about in this blog. She writes of fear and loss and how she has discovered that path forward. Most importantly, her words represent a universe of first time female offenders whose voices you’ll never hear.

Read her essay What It’s Like for a First Time Offender now.


*All of incarceration is struggle. Share Brandy’s voice so that others will know and understand.

2 thoughts on “The Lives Of Women Behind Bars (Part 3): An Essay by a First Time Female Offender

  1. I commend Brandy for her courage, strength, and motivation in seeking to improve her life while incarcerated and her opportunities once released. It would be so easy to feel overwhelmed and simply give up. I hope other women at her institution see her as a role model and can draw inspiration from her accomplishments.

    Positive prisoner role models are one of the most powerful forces in promoting rehabilitation.

    Scott Quimby, retired prison psychologist.

  2. Alice

    This comment is for Brandy:

    I find an enormous amount of strength in following inmates who have made the best of their situation. This may sound strange, but I often think about how people in the most difficult situations keep sane and how they develop purpose and meaning; their example of living leaves me with no excuse when I lean towards a downward spiral during my perceived hard times.

    You wrote something that I can always draw strength from.


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