No Second Chances: Life with a Permanent Record

Kelly’s Story

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I was seventeen the first time I got arrested. For years after that I continued to get arrested again and again, but nothing came of it until 2012. At twenty-two-years-old I was being charged with a felony. Despite this, over the next three years I continued to get charged with twelve other felonies—six of which I was convicted for. Of the felonies that I was convicted of, three were for possession of meth, two were for bail-jumping, and one was for the delivery of THC.
My story was on the front page of the newspaper three times, along with a photo of my face. I was charged with child neglect and my 11-month-old son was removed from my custody on December 22nd, 2014. This happened as a result of a detective finding drug paraphernalia in my house and my son testing positive for traces of meth in a hair follicle test. Although at the time my son wasn’t even living with me. Much of what the newspapers said about me was misleading information. I was never incarcerated, though, because instead I graduated the Alternatives to Incarcerating Mothers (AIM) Treatment Courts.
It wasn’t until I got placed into the AIM Courts that I really tried getting sober. Before then it had never felt like the “right day.” However, I knew that if I didn’t get sober I wouldn’t be able to be in the Courts, and that I would have to go to prison and lose everything I had.
The AIM Courts did so much for me. They gave me hope. Through the AIM Court system I got involved in various groups in the community. You can’t get sober otherwise. There I met people with long-term sobriety. I wanted to talk to people who have a solution—and these people did. Really it is life or death, and it was having a solution that kept me alive.
Fortunately, I have been able to turn my life around in the last year. January will mark a full year of sobriety for me. I’ve also gotten my son back, I have a full-time job, and he and I are steadily living on our own. Regardless of all of my accomplishments in the last year, though, I will always be remembered as the “Mom Charged with Exposing Child to Meth.” I don’t want to make excuses for myself or act like I don’t deserve what has happened to me in my life, but it is really difficult to move on when that is how your name and face will always be remembered. I am not my crimes. I want to be remembered for more than that.

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As told to Alanna W. and Jessica N.