The Ripple Effect

Incarceration is not a good time for anyone. It’s often the lowest point in a person’s life, and they simply can’t wait until it’s over.

But those inside aren’t the only ones who suffer. Their loved ones do too — just in different ways.

I got a chance to speak with David*, who has spent over a year total in and out of the Hamilton County Justice Center and River City. David says when he first got involved with the system, he was in a fairly new relationship, and his girlfriend, Rachel,* had a 9-year-old son with a father who wasn’t present.

They thought it would be hard on him, but David says they were honest and up front about the situation and were able to help him understand.

“At the time, he was upset seeing me leave. He kind of understood it wasn’t my choice, so it was different than the feelings for his father,” David says. “It was still hard not having me there, but he understood. I obviously wasn’t able to see school stuff, baseball games, etc., but he knew why.”

For Rachel, “it was a nightmare.”

"She was holding down the household financially, being my person on the outside, making the calls, setting up the right things to get stuff to me or coming to visit me,” David says. “It was very hard on her, emotionally and financially.”

Despite the circumstances, David says being locked up brought him and Rachel closer together — they’re married now. He says it was one of those ‘you don’t realize what you got until it’s gone’ type of things.

Personally, David says he had a hard time dealing with the literal helplessness of it all.

“That’s the worst,” he says. “Seeing what the system is actually like from the inside was extremely eye opening.”

His advice for other inmates? 

“Keep to yourself, do your time, and don’t worry about anyone else,” David said.

You may be going in alone, but hopefully you walk out with a few close people by your side.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy and safety of indivduals mentioned in story.