Finding Hope in Solitary Confinement

Illustration submitted by ‘Dayz Blaze,’ an inmate at the Hamilton County Justice Center

Illustration submitted by ‘Dayz Blaze,’ an inmate at the Hamilton County Justice Center

Editors Note: Stephanie’s last name was changed for her privacy and safety.

I always felt different. In my home. At my school. Within my peer groups. I was different — and not in a good way.

I grew up tough. Drug dealing and the fast life became very enticing. I was fascinated with it. By age 14, I was primed and ready to dive in, and so I did. Although my parents, along with the juvenile courts, gave their best efforts to deter me, nothing worked. No matter how much counseling or time I spent incarcerated, I always went back.

The path I chose led me in and out of institutions, jails, and prison. I learned how to “do time.” The possibility of incarceration may have been a deterrent to most. Not me. I was different.

I walked that path for 28 years. Abuse and addiction were my constant companions, which left me with a brokenness deep within my core. Every decision, every action, and every reaction came from that broken place.

It was December 2010. I was 36. I was out on bond, and I was facing 12 years in prison. My family and friends were tired of me. I was tired of myself. Yet another bottom. But I had learned from all the bottoms before this one that I possessed a great strength to survive – to overcome.

This time was different. This time, I had hope.

During my bid, I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement. Day after day, I asked for a Bible. Finally, I got one. I began reading it, and it was in those times of fellowship, alone with God, that He healed the brokenness that ruled me.  

Amazing things were happening inside of me. I had a new perspective. I was changing. I came to prison this time and found freedom. I wanted more.

In 2013, I was released. I would love to tell you everything in the past four years has been great, or that I have made all the right choices. But that wouldn’t be the truth.

The truth is, I’ve made some pretty big mistakes. I’ve let people down along the way. But today, because of God’s grace, I don’t run. I don’t give up. Because today, I am capable. I am willing.

I am different.