Frequently Asked Questions
Here you will find a list of questions that are asked regularly. If you have a specific question you would like answered, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What charges sent you to prison? A: 1 count of theft by taking, 10 counts of forgery. I wish I would've had the capacity to go to trial and fight for my vindication, but that is not the path I chose. In the state of Georgia, forgery is by the letter of the law. Even if you have someone's permission at the time you sign their name, it becomes forgery by the simple act of signing a name, especially if they claim you did not have permission (regardless of the truth). The original agreement between me and the State did not include prison time, but the judge felt I had wasted three years of the court's time and added it on to the sentence.
Q: So is prison just like you see on TV? A: I guess we can partially thank "Orange is the New Black" for this! Actually, no. Maybe some prisons are, but not my experience. Most people assume prison is prison. But there is a very big difference between Federal prison (usually what is portrayed on television, i.e. "Orange..") and state prison. I did not serve federal time, I served under the State of Georgia. Federal prisons have different regulations - they are known as Club Fed for a reason. Federal prisons are notorious for having much more freedom, more activities, kind of like home away from home. I knew of people that played on several softball leagues in federal prison, where as you are lucky to get an hour a day in a fenced yard in state prison. Everything is better in federal prison.
Q: You talk so openly about everything else, why don't you talk about the specifics in your charges, the person(s) involved, what happened that you were charged to begin with? A: Seriously, this is a hard one. A really hard one. I would like to be more authentic and just give all the details. But the internet is a serious place that involves legal complications, to include possible libel and slander. All it takes is for that person(s) to feel misrepresented and I am back where I was 13 years ago. I think I take enough risk putting myself on the radar with the truth of the prison system and the State of Georgia, I don't think it's wise to put myself into a possible legal battle with someone who obviously had no qualms doing that to me once before. Perhaps there will come a time when I feel brave enough to openly talk about those details, but for now, I don't trust that the story and details can be told here without fear of repercussion. I don't make light of the matter or try to scoot around them because I feel guilty, but I also don't think that those details are an essential part to the real meat of my story, and that is of my experience. I am currently researching liabilities and weighing the risks, but at some point, I would like to be forthcoming about the circumstances that led to my charges and eventual incarceration.
Q: Are you clear from the State? A: Yes. My full sentence was 18 months served time, 10 years probation (concurrent with prison time), and $25,000 restitution. I served my time prison time, supervised probation, then was moved to unsupervised probation once I paid my entire restitution in 2012. Because I was on First Offender status, I had to serve out the entire 10 years of probation. February 20, 2015 was my last day of obligation to the State. For the most part, my rights have been restored. I can vote, I can leave the state and the country. Paul and one of our best friends bought me a hand gun as a probation-ending gift, though I was the one to make the purchase. The State held it for three days, but then it was mine. I have not yet attempted my conceal carry license, though that's next. The snag is that technically, someone from the depart of corrections is supposed to submit paperwork to the GBI saying I completed all the terms of my sentence and my rights are restored. However, during the time I was on unsupervised probation and didn't need to report to anyone, the system moved to an automated, less-human system. And now I cannot find a single human being to help me complete the process.
Q: What is First Offender? A: This is given to those with a clean record prior to current charges, with a 'promising' future. Under first offender, I have to serve my entire sentence with no issues, no new charges, fulfilling all my obligations. When my sentence ends, all of my rights are restored, my record expunged, and it is as if it never happened (judges and law enforcement can always see my record). I am never considered a convicted felon unless I violate probation or commit a new crime with charges and conviction, or a judge decides to rescind First Offender. I have to follow all the rules of felony probation while on probation, but I am not a convict at this time, and I am still able to legally vote. I cannot associate with felons, own or be around or in possession of fire arms, or rob banks (ha ha). I have to obtain permission to leave the state for any reason. I do not have to list myself as having been convicted or arrested for a felony on job applications or any application. The drawback (for some) is that if I were to violate my probation in any way (i.e. receive charges for another crime, miss a restitution payment, etc.), my First Offender status would likely be rescinded, and I would be sent to prison, no questions asked, to serve my entire 10 year sentence. Good thing I am a good girl.
Q: If you could take it all back and erase the whole ordeal, would you? A: That's a loaded question. Would anyone REALLY put themselves through turmoil where you spend two years of your life in hell and come out a completely different person? Yeah, me either. But really, no, I wouldn't. I learned more about myself during my time, and I feel lucky for it. I addressed many issues in my life and within myself... things that would likely have continued to sabotage any chance at happiness. I kind of feel like I had so many experiences that just wouldn't have happened out here in the real world. I wouldn't trade them for anything. I wouldn't be who I am today without my experiences.
Q: Why do you think it is important to have a blog that is centered around your experience? Are you just seeking attention? A. No, it is not about attention. I am very introverted and actually shy away from attention. I actually address this issue here.
Q: Has your experience changed the way you see the the justice system and incarceration? A: Yes, absolutely. There is no way you can go through an experience like this and not have your eyes opened. Politically I am very different, but the biggest change is remembering to see people as human beings, not just convicts or felons or inmates. I suppose that is very hard to do (I thought in the same black and white manner before my experience), but I cannot just close my eyes to these matters anymore. Our system is very damaged, and very damaging (which is an understatement).