Life on Parole

Imagine what it would be like if you had to account to someone regarding every aspect of your life, forever. What if you had to send someone proof of employment once a month? Imagine how it would feel to have someone visit your home monthly to verify that you live there and observe your surroundings. What if you had to ask for permission every time you wanted to travel across state lines and you couldn’t go unless you received a travel permit with your picture plastered across it?

What if you had to perform a urinalysis every so often just to make sure you are not using drugs; and occasionally you had to answer a series of questions in order to update your profile? How are things going? Are you still in school? Who would you say are a part of your support system? The questions seem redundant after a while, but they serve to determine the level of scrutiny you will be subjected to.

What if you had someone come to your job wearing a badge and a bulletproof vest just to check in on you from time to time and make sure you are where you said you would be? Imagine living like this for years on end. That’s what it’s like to be on parole. For some people a parole sentence can be five years. For others parole can last as long as 30 years. There are levels to parole supervision: maximum, medium and minimum. Additionally, there’s the option of unsupervised parole and early termination.

When I was released in December of 2011 I was released on conditions of parole that could last up to 60 years. At the time, I was so overjoyed with the fact that I was getting released that it didn’t matter to me that I would be under the scrutiny of the Criminal Justice system possibly for the rest of my life. I just wanted to be free.

Being on parole was a cinch for me because I was positive and focused. I knew that I had to do what I was required to do in order to be able to do what I wanted to do. For three years I signed documents, answered questions, received home visits and job visits and performed urinalysis after urinalysis.

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The worst was when I wanted to travel and I knew that I did not have the “right” to leave merely because I wanted to leave. I had to have permission to travel. That was until Monday, June 22, 2015 at 9:00 PM when I received a call from my Community Supervision Officer (CSO) informing me that I was released from parole.

For the first time in my life I cried happy tears. I used to think crying “happy tears” was just a myth. Today I know what it means to be free. Over the past 21 years during my incarceration and reentry process I have transformed my life and amended my ways. Freedom has taken on a whole new meaning and I’m as excited as ever to be truly, “Free at last!” Finally, I have my life back.

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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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