Loving Freedom after A Life Behind Bars

I was talking to a friend of mine about the rate of recidivism among men in the District of Columbia. According to him, at least three men get sent back to prison from the halfway house every week.

Related:  Bureau of Justice Statistics

He said, “The difference between those guys who go back and me is the fact that I love my freedom and those guy either like it, or they are indifferent toward it.”

My friend spent 16 years incarcerated. He often emphasizes, “I looovve my freedom!” When he says it, he has a look of passion and sincerity in his eyes that cannot be mistaken.

I can relate to having a profound love for freedom after being confined for 18 years. This morning when I was getting dressed, without warning, the feel and friction of the denim material of my blue jeans sent a thrill through my inner being.

I began to reminisce about the discomfort, boredom, shame and disappointment of wearing beige, khaki pants every day for years.

You might be interested in: Life inside the New Mexico Women’s Prison

More than the pants, I disliked wearing the button up khaki shirt with my name and number blazoned across the pocket. The feeling of being in jeans, dresses and business suits and being afforded the opportunity to choose what to wear is a joy indeed.

It’s the little things that mean so much when you have freedom taken away and returned to you. Someone asked me what I love most about my new apartment.  I replied, “being able to walk from room to room.

My kitchen has two doorways that serve as an exit and entry point. Sometimes I find myself walking in one entrance and out of the other exit just because I can.”

For a very long time I spent most of my time confined to one room, unable to move about or come and go at will.

Last night as I lay in bed, I relished in how good my plush, queen sized mattress is. Thoughts of the mattress I once slept on while incarcerated invaded my mind. It was more like an exercise mat on a slab of metal.

I always slept on the top bunk, so tossing and turning was out of the question because tossing could land me on the floor and turning could cause me to smack my head against the brick wall next to me.

Last night I pushed all of those thoughts out of my head, snuggled against my pillow, said a silent prayer of thanksgiving for freedom, and dozed off. I slept well.

You might be interested in: Imagine! Life After Prison



About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 

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