Tag Archive: women in prison


AAaaaaand……Denied!

 I was rejected for the cosmetology program at Brevard Community College.  If you read my previous posts, you know that it was quite costly to apply.  I have been going through a process that has taken two months and two hundred dollars.  I paid for a background check through Certified BackgoundCheck.com (105.00), application to BCC (30.00), application to cosmeology (25.00) a physical (10.00 through brevard health alliance)and hepatitus B vaccination, first shot (25.00).  That is not including the cost of loading a prepaid visa each time a new fee came into play.

 I called the school ahead of time, and asked one of the administrators in that area many questions reguarding my past, because I was concerned I would be denied when I learned of the requirements for getting accepted.  She listened to my story (and I was brutaly honest), and told me that she didn’t  think it would be a problem.  I told her of my felonies, and she said that I would have to write a letter (which I did) explaining my situation, and would probably have to do the same for the Florida State Board.  NIX!  This was NOT the way it all went down.

After my background check was posted for the powers that be to view, I called the school.  the said they recieved my leter, it was heartfelt and very good, and they would call me when they viewed my background.  Four days later, I recieved a call…

“We have to say no, Michelle you have 7 felonies!  you can’t get licenced in the state of Florida!”

I asked, how is that possible?  I was specifically told it was considered on a case by case basis, and that if I am clean (and have been for several years now) that I would have a chance to be heard by the state board.  The voice on the other end of the line told me that they are not going to even get me in touch with the state board, and that they do not believe I can ever get a cosmetology license.

I would like to remind you, the reader, that I am not a murderer, or a child molester, I never hurt anyone.  This whole thing is based on the fact that I was a drug user for several years who prostituted herself when she was homeless.  I never even stole from anyone.  I sold myself, and that is all.

So, I have been trying to get in touch with the state board of cosmetology on my own.  I have to call back today after 4 pm.  I am going to find out if I can appeal to someone there, instead of the school I applied to.  A local independant school that I contacted said they would gladly take me if I could provide some kind of proof that the state board would be willing to licence me despite my history.  I pursue this because it is a passion for me, I love hair and make up.

Tomorrow, I am going back to BCC and consulting with a course advisor, because I am going to take some classes no matter what the outcome.  I want to learn and explore my interests, and find out what I CAN do with my life despite my felonies.

Covering all my bases, so to speak.

Here’s the KICKER…the thing that really twists my pretzel…when I was in prison, cosmetology was one of the courses provided for inmates who were willing to learn and rehabilitate.  I took that course, and while there, I distinctly recall one fellow classmate who upon release, took her test, passed it, and went on to get a job doing hair.  After that, I never heard of another.  Has the new age of computer backgound checks made the criteria more strict?  Is it really possible that a recovering addict will forever be denied a licence to cut hair because of drug charges? Are women in prison taking this class, only to be denied a licence after all of their hard work?  WHAT IS HAPPENING?

It’s getting out of hand…people make mistakes.  We ALL do.  Some worse than others.  But, if background checks that reveal a history of drug use can stop a recovering addict from getting an education, and rebuilding their life, what hope is there for them?

I have been putting in a lot of applications for jobs, and I hear, over and over…

“yes well, after we complete a backgound check….”

Yes…after you complete a backgound check, I will most likely not be considered for the job, when you have 5 other applicants who DO NOT have a criminal background. I understand.

And so, an education is paramount.  It is important to allow a recovering addict to apply themselves, PROVE themselves able to stay clean, and to learn, so that when the job market is the goal, they may come equipped with a trade and be ready to do the job.  Employers are focusing on backgrounds though, not the individual. Hmmmmmm……

So then, the worst part of all this…many addicts are not really guilty of any kind of felonious act…no crimes against society…just, well, getting high.   Now they are felons.   What percentage of our population is addicted to some kind of substance?  My God…where are we going with this?

 

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Today while I was jogging, I was considering my posts since I have started here, and I really felt bad about the fact that nearly everything I have posted has been of a fairly if not extememly negative nature.  I want to make sure that I don’t give the impression that I am miserable 100% of the time.  I know after reading my previous posts you would not think that’s the case, but I am very resilient and have a sort of knack for making the most out of almost any situation, if given enough time and I’m motivated to do so.  I am compelled to write when things get really bad, because I don’t really have any close friends, and the somewhat more distant friends that I do have, well,  as you can imagine I am not too eager to tell them the kinds of things I put up with here at times.  I also have a little problem connecting with people  as I’ve explained before, and it’s tough to reach out.  Part of the reason is probably because if I did reach out…I might have to actually DO something about all this, and I can’t (read: won’t) DO THAT.

Okay, so here is the thing…I am NOT ALWAYS miserable and I have something to offer besides sharing my misery!

For those of you who have just gotten out, I can certainly remember what that feels like, having done time in both the local jails and the state prisons on many occasions.  While incarcerated, women especially can tend to get very out of shape, both physically AND mentally.  We can get complacent, sometimes even lazy.  If you were lucky enough, as I was, to have the opportunity to participate in a meditation program, yoga, church or other physical and spiritual activities, it certainly is a blessing.  But I know that not all inmates, save a precious few have access to such programs, and what happens to us when we are locked away, is we become overweight in many instances, and we also forget how to cope with life and the stress of making our own decisions.

If you are like me, you never knew how to make good decisions in the first place.  I am still guilty of that, but working on it…slowly, ever so slowly, working on it.

The first thing I have to offer is this:  Don’t bite off more than you can chew, swallow and digest properly.  Don’t think that because now that you are clean and sober and free, you can conquer the world immediately.  It may very well be that you can conquer the world but sister,  it will take some time.  If you overload yourself, you will burn hot for a little while with high expectations and hopes, only to crash hard and burn out long before you acutally get anywhere.  I speak from experience.  And once you crash, your only place to run are your old, familiar, and comforting  BAD  habits.

Everyone is different and your limits are certainly not the same as mine, so only you can judge how hard you should push yourself.  If, like me, you have NEVER lived a structured or even remotely disciplined life, you have to consider that before comitting to a lot of different jobs or classes or whatever it may be.  Focus on one thing and once you are comfortable and do that one thing well for a little while, bite off another chuck and work on that.  Me, I tried to work two jobs, maintain a spiritual regimen that many people would find difficult, AND enroll in college for the first time EVER!  All in the first 4 months of getting out.  Maybe YOU could do it, but for me, it was too much.  Only you can adjust your schedule.  Pay attention.  Watch your thinking and when you start to resent and get frustrated with the simplest of things in your life…you know you may be close to a breaking point.

I couldnt focus on anything, I would try to be still and meditate but the pressures of hardly any sleep and the two jobs with tight schedules and new classes and homework and studying, for a person who had never lived a disciplined life…this was crushing, and I snapped.  Trust me folks, you KNOW as well as I do, if you just got out, SNAPPING is very, very bad.

The rest of the story is one we all know, and the end result was detox and rehab with my tail between my legs.  THAT’S when the cahanges began.

I was 220 pounds when I went to rehab in Feb. of 2010.  I stayed there for a total of  8 weeks, during which I started cutting down my carbs signifiantly.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I’m here to tell you, if you are like me, you never realized the pull of carbs and sugar on your mind and body.  It took a little while, but even before I finished rehab, weight was dropping off, and my mind was getting clearer.  I simply didn’t eat the bread from the sandwiches, no potatoes or fries, no heavy sweets like gooey snack cakes and such.  I did eat a few hard candies only when I had a craving, and lots of fresh fruit.  No rolls, no pancakes or french toast.  No grits, just eggs and half a serving of sausage or bacon.  There was enough protein and fruit and veggies availabe, and I was full all of the time.

Once I went to the halfway house, I started working out.  One hour of aerobic activity each and every day without fail.  I had plenty of time to myself in between groups, so this was easy to maintain and it actually really helped to pass the time and keep my mind focused, not wandering into the realm of stuff we addicts shouldn’t think about.  There was a stairmaster and a treadmill.  I used the treadmill to walk/jog , and then kept the stairmaster turned off, I would get on and use it with little resistence, so that I could find a good steady maintainable pace, alternating a kind of bouncing motion.  Twice one one foot, twice on another foot, then alternating feet, then back to the two times on each side.  With the music pumping this is a fun and satisfying workout, and it really jump started my weight loss.

Yoga is my warm down.  I do very basic poses to stretch and relax my muscles, and I play really soothing music to make me feel pamered and calm.  I am thinking about posting my personal routine, because I have combined a lot of different things to create a routing that works for me since I am not in GREAT shape like some of the popular yoga instuctors.

I stayed away from all bread, potatoes, white refined sugar and white rice.  No glutonous products.  I separated yolks from eggs and ate copius amounts of egg whites, giving the yolks to happy recipients that cohabitated with me at the halfway house.  Many veggies, many fruits, lots of white tuna and lots of different kinds of seasoning, brown and wild rice filled me up.  It works.  When the body is used to the prison or jail system diet full of all those carbs, you know, all the white bread and potaoes and grits, this shift in diet causes a quick drop in weight that is totally healthy and also tends to be motivating to keep working at it.

I should add that when in rehab here in FL, we are elligible for food stamps, which is how I was able to afford to eat healthy.  The base amount is 200 a month which was more than enough.

Eventually I was required to go out and work, I was pretty comfortable where I was so this became easier, also, my new body was a little confidence boost, not to mention I had A LOT more energy.  Prayer and meditation helps as well.  I have had problems searching for my faith, and where it lies, and that search in and of itself is at least better than no faith at all.  I believe in GOD…Christ died for us….we have to be still to find GOD…that’s all I know for sure…and it’s enough for now.

I kept up my workout routine, after work and before group, sometimes after depending on the schedule.  That took a little more discipline but I was ready by then for the next step.

After a while, my body seemed to stop loosing, and I had to step it up, which is when I started running.  I had to start off slow, running and walking alternately, and after 6 months of gradual increase, I am now able to run 4 miles, most of the time, I run 5 days a week, some days I cut it in half due to time or heat, but if I push it, 4 miles is my highest.

I used to wear a size 22 when I got out, now I am in an 11.  Of course I managed to get myself in a dysfunctional relationship once again, so I am not even close to conquering the world sister, but hey, one thing at a time right?

Let me get through school, which is right up the street from where I live, and once I (finally) get my licence to do hair and can get a GOOD job/CAREER….then we’ll see if I am still willing to put up with all his mess!

😉  BTW…It has been a little over a year since I got out of rehab, and I am now FINALLY enrolling in school, able to work from home which is helpful since I don’t have a car.  Baby steps…