Yesterday in our special report Behind Bars we went inside the hallways and cells of the Dougherty County Jail. In part two of Behind Bars FOX 31 News spoke with two inmates and their attempt to get on the right track.
Like most grandparents 41-year-old Jennifer Kelley looks at a picture of her grandson every day. The only difference is she's never met him, because she's been in jail for months. She says it's very difficult for the women in jail to maintain their sense of motherhood when they're behind bars. "Even when I'm here I write my kids, and we talk, and I tell them about it. I know my kids love me, but I know they're hurt because of it. Sometimes I think about what they do in school and I'm not there. I've missed birthdays and holidays and it really hurts.Read more Behind Bars Part One Romney's Jail Diary Inmates Question Romney Inmate Abuse Marissa Calhoun's Story
Jennifer has cycled in and out of the Dougherty County jail since 1996 and says her addiction to drugs and alcohol drove her to commit the crimes to fund her habit. "It's easy to feel accepted over there, but when you get in this system it's not easy. You're gonna be livin' with people, you don't have privacy, you can't do what you want to do when you want to do, and freedom is valuable" says Kelley.
Even though none of her four children have been to jail she says she's seen things that have motivated her to finally break the habit of relapsing into habits and activities that land her in jail. "I'm seeing mothers and daughters in here and I don't want that for my kids and myself, so I've really decided now that something has to change. This experience has been worse than any experience â" this is my last time here" says Kelley.
She spends a lot of time writing a 30 day devotional for women in prison, reading her bible, and conducting a daily bible study class for young women in the jail. She's awaiting her day in late November.
Next we met an inmate who is in a very unique position here in the Dougherty County Jail. 26-year-old Mary Prince is in jail for probation violation. Her original crime was robbery. She enjoys talking to other inmates during her free time, and says they all have a similar background of getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. Mary is in a unique position at the jail because she's six and a half months pregnant.
During our interview I asked her what could someone have told her to prevent you from have ever committing the robbery? "Someone could have just told me that I was a better person than the life I was living. I was going down the wrong track and I know it was obvious to other people, but I had to learn the hard way. It scares me sometimes thinkin' I might not be able to get out before I have my child. But I'm pretty sure I will. It's just the thought of having a kid in jail and then not being there with it after it's born" says Prince.
Mary has three children. Her 1-year-old son is with her sister, and her 8-year-old daughter was taken away from her because of her legal issues. She says being pregnant in jail made her realize she has to change and she's got a new plan to stay out of trouble. "Number one I'm going to stay away from the same people, the same scenery, and I'm not going to go back to the same activities I was doing before I came to jail. I'm just going to be a good mom and be a good mom for my kids" says Prince.
Mary says the jail time doesn't affect her, but she hates how it affects her family because those are the people she's hurting the most. "I can do time, I can do days, I can do months, I would even do years if I had to. It's our family and our kids that we're hurting the most and we don't see it until we're ready to see it" says Prince.
Both women say they're ready for a change, a new life, and a fresh start when they're released from the Dougherty County Jail.