Mass incarceration has been highly publicized over the last decade now. The prison system is an 88 billion dollar a year industry. Systemic racism is evident at every stage of the system. Our jails have become detox centers, with correctional officers that have neither education nor sympathy on the matter. Only judgement. I don't blame the babysitters though, if not for a select few, I may not be out today.
The government freely admits that our system is broken, yet they continue to make more moves to create even more prisons & less moves to get people out & keep them out. When we finally figured out why our prisons are overcrowded (coughDRUGWARcough) & demand that they be released, especially during covid, they did. A little. Then they built new prisons & called them Immigration centers in a matter of days- to kidnap children & separate them from their parents. No way. What in the actual...? Not when they make 88 billion dollars a year toting us prisoners around the country, hundreds of miles from our families! What I wouldn't give to have one of these people making bank off of us, to take a trip on one of our transport buses for a week. Make sure you keep the cuffs on 'em too.
Here's the thing that pisses me off. You're admitting this shit is broken, and you're still not doing anything. Never in my life has it been so perfectly clear to me that we are alone. When it comes to our best interests. Or that the things we learned in school were chosen to paint a picture of how great America is. Land of the free! Home of the brave! Factually speaking, we are the least free country on the planet. Somewhere along the way we started caring more about the money & power than our neighbors or our children's and their children's futures!.
There are no more heroes. No more Abraham Lincoln's or Martin Luther King's. I, of course choose those men not because they fought against slavery, but simply because of their integrity. Doing the right thing even when nobody is watching. Owning another human being and truly believing you're a better race than any other simply because of skin color contains no integrity that I can see. A lot of famous war veterans and presidents in our history may have accomplished great things, but that doesn't mean they didn't own slaves or remove people from their own land.
As a child, my first best friends in daycare and throughout school were black & I never looked at them differently. In fact, being in the system and in foster homes growing up, I didn't have nice new stuff or parents active in the school & so those were the ones who accepted me- and not because of my clothes. They showed me empathy. I assumed it was because they knew what it was like to be judged for something you can't help, or change. I've heard the same things from many many other millennial's. That proves racism is learned, it's taught by our families. That proves racism is systemic, we were brainwashed by our own government. Many of our parents were raised by racists, you don't have to hate them because the government and people in power created plenty of propaganda against African Americans (entire "pages" of our history have been ripped out of our "text book" and we were never taught a lot of things in school) that most people were back then. So then in turn, now some of our parents might deserve the title of white supremist. While others claim to not be racist at all, but then say things like my adoptive Mother,
"I had to move my Mom to another home because her nurse was black"
"Mom that's racist"
"I would never!"
There is a song called "Everybody is a Little Racist" (by, John Tartaglia)
"Everyone's a little bit racist, sometimes.
Doesn't mean we go around committing hate crimes.
Look around and you will find,
No one's really color-blind.
Maybe it's a fact we all should face.
Everyone makes judgments...
Based on race."
There's even a test to show exactly how racist you are (not kidding) and what it shows us is mind-blowing. Not because of how many white people are racist without even realizing it, because that would not surprise me one bit. What surprised me, was when black men took that test it showed that even they themselves were a little racist. It's fucked up that we have made even 1 of them feel less about themselves.
A part of our history of racism, our government did the same thing with crime. Lied about statistics saying that crime was a lot higher than it really was. Once you could put someone away for 10 years for having weed, so on and so forth, the prison walls have been bleeding ever since.
Politicians are now bred, instilled with the same greed as generations before them. Letting power get to your head is actually normal & almost to be expected in human behavior. That's why we have fail-safes. We all know this because they taught us this in school, but there's several different branches of the government so that one alone does not get more powerful than all the rest. Honestly though, I think we've let this monster get far too big to pull the plug now. I think they're all corrupt and we should wipe all of them clean & start over. With people who display integrity.
I'll say it. Maybe a good majority of us really got away with more than we should've. I can admit I'm lucky that all I've ever been charged with was possession. My using friends and I helped each other out whenever we could, but usually it was hard enough cover your own habit. How would you feel if one of those times you guys helped that friend out because you know what its like to be that sick, and the next day you found out they were dead? The texts are in his phone from the exchange. Now you're going away for 10 years for manslaughter. Your babies will have drivers licenses when you finally get out. Do you mourn your dead friend first? The guilt & shame? Or your freedom & your kid's childhoods? Unless the person who sold them the drugs that killed them is some violent drug dealer, no one should be put away because they gave/sold someone a little bit of what they were going to find somewhere else anyways. We call that not being able to handle your drugs. You know what game you're in. If you don't want your Mom to go through your funeral, carry Narcan. It's when teenagers die that I start to get real judgey, because they don't know better.
How about the percentage of inmates who really didn't do shit? What about all these kids that are growing up without their parents? What will that look like for our future? Don't you think that we gave our children enough problems to face in their lifetimes? Like saving the planet that we destroyed? Countries that are full of hate for us, because of the sins of our fathers.
Going to jail/prison is considered to be traumatizing. You get flooded with adrenaline and stress hormones, like cortisol, and chemicals that kick off a flight–or–fight response, your body's natural way of dealing with an emergency situation or a uniquely stressful situation. Living under this stress for whatever length of time, sometimes years (for weed!) does really bad shit to your body. So bad that it's been proven that those who've been locked up, especially for lengthy stays, prison takes 10 + years of your life. Even if you've been out for a long time after.
Things aren't always so black and white. Good or evil. Wrong or right. Not everyone charged with a crime is guilty & not every person who's guilty deserves jail time, their families broken and jobs lost. However, 100% of inmates will come out of jail/prison a smarter criminal, with a rolodex full of real criminals; a certain disdain for the law & a few less fucks to give. Now add another incarceration, and another. Jail has saved my life & I have no problem admitting when I'm guilty. I've always taken responsibility for my own shit. So I'm keeping it 100 when I say it's also turned my life & children 's lives upside down for absolutely NO reason. More than once I've had my freedom taken for not making it to an appointment.
I have hope though, because out of all the generations that came before it, Gen Z is the most equipped to save us all. They're tech savvy & financially grounded. They're less concerned with things like race, sex & religion. Now they can focus on what really counts because as of now, one in every 28 (2.7 million) children in the United States has a parent currently incarcerated. One out of 14 children in the U.S. has had a parent in prison at one point and more than half of the prisoners in state & federal prisons have never even had a visit with their child. It's definitely not for lack of want on our parts.
We thought our kids were doomed to be on their phones or game systems 24/7 and live in our basement & expecting us to do their laundry for another 30 years. (My door is always open though, I'm just sayin'). However, when we told them that they laughed in our face & became millionaires by having other people watch them play video games, lip-sync, and get ready for school. Uhm..wow.
America only takes up 5% of the world's population. So why do we house 25% of the World's prisoners!? Between 1995-2005 the women's prison population increased by 57%! That's insane. Until AARWIP's PIP's (pregnancy in prison statistics) research project - there had been no systematic data on how many women were pregnant in prison and what happened with those pregnancies. WHAT are they doing, for real?
I've been wanting to write a blog for a long time. Once I researched how much money these blogs were making, I saw my opportunity & I knew exactly what my niche would be. I have some decent writing skills & a TON of crazy-sad happy-hopeful motherhood-prison addiction-mental health embarrassing-foster care (Gasp! Breathe! Gasp!) Jerry Springer & trailer park memories that I can share. I hope it can help the next Mother, and especially future generations. At least I can teach them what NOT to do.
If I can get this blog/site to make money, I would create programs just like childrenofinmates.org. They provide transportation or zoom visits for kids to see their parents in prison. A good chunk of us are housed hundreds of miles away from home. Or like in my case, the guardian of my daughter decided all by herself she wasn't going to bring Madisyn to see me, ever. Or help us communicate at all. They have nation-wide online kids groups so they know they're not alone & can connect with another kid their age who's going through the same things. They also go into the prisons & educate parents on brain development & how trauma can effect it. I think that's an awesome idea because I believe if you know better, you do better. A lot of us weren't taught things like this, because we surely didn't grow up in a loving home. Maybe our parents weren't brought up in one so they don't know any better.
Just being sober isn't enough. If I can't have my kids back, I'll put my whole heart into this & my new airbrush tanning company. I'll continue to share my story & others as well & do what I can to fight Prison Reform! I will not stay ignorant.
~ Dante Alighieri
I was born Yvonne Francis Beneventi. Yup. That's actually my real name. The one my birth mother chose at the hospital. And until a year ago, I'd been celebrating my birthday on the wrong day since...forever. While I was incarcerated at WWRC for my trauma program, I thought it would be the perfect time to request my ward of the state/closed case files from DCFS in IL. When I was 6, the police & DCFS did an investigation on my Mom & took me away from her. I have a lot of really bad memories. They flash in front of me when I'm reminded of certain things, smells, people. Then BAM! Unwanted memories all up in my face.
I know how fragile children's memories can be & I moved from place to place & person to person. Who knows how my memories could've been influenced? Did I remember correctly? Was it as bad as I remembered? Or was I being dramatic? Did someone tell me "this is what happened" and that's why I remember it that way, instead of what really happened? I had to find out. This was a really safe place for me to do it. If the information I got was upsetting, I had all the support I needed right there.
I had to do a TON of paperwork to get these things. Especially since my name was changed & you know everything in prison has to be done by snail mail. When I finally got them, I went into my cell, shut the door & got comfy. It turns out, I had remembered perfectly. How could this woman do this shit to me, but I had no hate in my heart for her? It really shows you how strong a mother & daughter bond is. What I did not remember correctly however, was my birth date! The papers say February 24th, but I've always celebrated it on the 25th along with my cousin who was born on "my birthday" when i was 6! Crazy right?
I suppose I always knew a part of her loved me. But I also knew she was very dangerous. And unpredictable. I had to be ready for anything. I think a lot of children who go through trauma like this turn out to be empaths. Because you've gotten so good at watching and predicting other's behavior to protect yourself. Like is she in one of her moods today? I could literally watch the light go out in her eyes when she "changed" & melted into one of her psychotic episodes.
The psychotic episodes that would have her sell me to men starting at the age of 3. The episodes where she beats me with aluminum bats or tries to drown me in the tub. Was that her illness? Or was she just evil? Do I have cigarette burn scars on my back because my mother was a paranoid schizophrenic? Or was she much much more than that?
I was finally taken from her when I was almost 7. They put me with my birth Aunt Mindy & she wanted to adopt me. But after my Mom threatened to blow her house up along with the school's, I was shipped off to my first foster home. Julie Shea wasn't in the foster care business to save lives & help children. She was definitely in it for the money. As soon as I got there she threw out all my clothes that my Aunt had just gotten me :(
One day I was sitting at my desk in my room when I felt somebody behind me. When I turned my head to look, her 25 yr old son Christopher had his penis hanging out of his basketball shorts. That was it though. he stood in the doorway, silent, thingy dangling in the wind. What in the -----? This is when I started to internalize that most men were like this.
After that he would make me watch tv with him and sit on his lap a certain way. I'd try and move but he'd just move me right back.
I wrote about it in my little journal with a lock. When I got home from school one day I barely made it in the door before Julie was hitting me in the face. What did I do???? She said "I read what you wrote in your little diary, and I changed my son's name to Roger! I don't ever blah blah blah" (Roger was one of the men who went to prison after they took me from my Mom & investigated) I didn't say a word. 2 weeks later she found blood on the bed skirt in my room from when she beat my ass, so she got mad and did it again.
When she had too many foster kids, I was the one to go. Fine by me. When my social worker picked me up I didn't even say goodbye and I certainly never looked back.
She brought me to a group home called Arden Shores in Lake Bluff, IL. The staff was so nice and I was the only white girl but that group home is where I created my first friendships. After I had been there about a year, my caseworker came to my room to talk to me. She asked me how I would feel about being adopted.
"Adopted? But you guys told me my mom was trying to get better?" and she replied "She signed her right away Vonnie, she's no longer your Mom. So we need to look at other options"
Everything my Mom had done to me before that didn't matter anymore, I wanted to be with HER. Up until that point, nothing she'd ever done to me hurt worse than being told she'd given up. So I try to remember that with my own kids. I'll never give up. I'll fight everyday before my daughter will ever feel like that. And i know in a way, she does. But its different. Even if I lose, at least she'll know I didn't go down without a fight. And like my daughter enlightened me, you can't compare our stories. One is not worse than the other. We both lost our Mom for awhile, but I'm back baby and she's stuck with me forever.
I will continue this little auto-bio in my blog, and I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me & why EXCONMOM.COM means so much to me!
My kids are SO much prettier! Ha!
This is a medical exam I had when I was 7 yrs old after I was taken from my Mother. It states that I have no hymen. I could've told them that.
This is one of the DCFS documents that came w/ the above medical exam. Turns out I remembered accurately.
Trish, Rose, Kathy & Mindi. My birth Aunts were my Angels. I was closest to my Aunt Mindy & she passed from cancer. I never got to say goodbye
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