Questions we always get asked: What’s it like to be in prison? 

By Makenzie Shull

Like a lot of people, I wake up at 6 a.m. to start getting ready to be at work by 7:30 a.m. I spend my workday making calls and having conversations with business leaders all over the world. I take college courses and go to different classes at lunch or after work. I work five days a week, usually putting in 40 hours or more a week. The difference between you and me? I do not get into my car or ride the bus to get to work – I walk two-by-two and am escorted into and out of the building. At the end of the day, I return to my temporary home: the room I share with 16 other incarcerated women. I live out of a small high school locker where I keep my most prized possessions.  I have a tiny bunk where I can escape from everything, reading, drawing, writing to my family, and dreaming of the day when I finally get to walk out of these gates and show everyone the changes I have worked so hard for.

Maybe you have seen some corny prison show and thought oh, prison really isn’t so bad, or it’s even worse than you thought. Let me be the first to tell you, most of what you have seen on TV is not the way it is. We do not lay in bed all day or get handed things without working for them. Just like many other people, I earn a living which allows me to buy the food and hygiene products I need, and to make the phone calls that mean so much to me. I have a family who mean the world to me. I am mom to beautiful little girls. I am a daughter to a mother who has stuck by my side through the worst things any parent could go through. I am a sister, an aunt to a niece, and a nephew and a niece I have never met. I have missed six years’ worth of birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and so many important things. I have lost people who will not be there when I finally am able to reenter society. I have been through things that most people could never imagine going through, but thankfully each experience has brought me to the person I am today.

Through the work I do every day and the support I get from Televerde Foundation, I can finally be the mother, daughter, sister, and aunt I have always wanted to be. So, the next time you find yourself watching one of those corny prison shows, remember that we are people too. We’ve all made some mistakes in our lives, and unfortunately the ones I made took me down a road I never thought I’d be on. Luckily, I’ve found so many people who were like me: broken, but ready to put their life back together.