FEATURE STORIES

The Re-entry Chronicles


by Nikki Jones
July 2009

Nikki Jones was released from prison in May, 2009.  A loyal writer for our “Action Words” section in RED! the breakthrough ‘zine during her incarceration, Nikki is now regularly chronicling her re-entry into society. 

 

May 31, 2009

My first day home could never have been more perfect. I honestly have to say that I didn’t realize how much support I have with my family and friends here. Well, my mom, husband, and baby brother came to pick me up. I did just what I told my mom I would do: I hit my knees, thanked Jesus, and kissed the concrete. Marla Taylor was there, God bless her heart, with clothes, sunblock, and, as well, my friend Sandi.

We all cried on the way home. I went to McDonald’s and tried to change clothes in the bathroom. I got stuck in a size one. It turns out I’m a nine now. It was hilarious! I made it home and everyone came to see me. At 1:30, I went to Crawford Woods and met my daughter. She’s amazing! It was so hard. She speaks in full sentences and knows Spanish at two-years old. When she looked at me and pointed at Jessica and said, “That’s my mommy,” it crushed me. But, I held it together and we played for a few hours.

“Amazing” is the only word I know to describe her, and even that isn’t good enough. I talked to Jessica and Andy for a while, and once the kids tired out we came home. My aunt came up and took me shopping at Target. I had to buy a black dress for a funeral on Wednesday. A man I once cared for died in a car wreck last week. I also got an outfit for church.

And at 6:00 p.m. on my first night home, I was sitting in Indian Springs Baptist Church with my husband, my little brother and his girlfriend, my “baby” cousin (15-years old), my friends Liz and James and their two babies. Yep, I talked half the house into going with me.

As we walked my cousin home, we had a good talk about the Lord. God is so good and he deserves so much praise and glory for all he’s done for me. After church, we did a lot of running, and it is now 1:30 a.m. and I have to be up at 6:15 a.m. So, it’s bedtime. More soon.

 

June 1, 2009

Another very busy day! I finally made it to sleep at 3:00 a.m. and I got up at 6:15 a.m. I read my Bible and said my prayers, and then commenced to drag my husband out of bed. He told me he should have gotten a dog instead of a wife—ha.

We went to the government services building to see about some assistance. They said that they’ll only give me a food card. No medical card. That was hard because, while I was in prison, I was told I would be eligible for a medical card when I was released, because I have epilepsy.

Well, the lady said that’s not true; I apparently wasn’t eligible. So, we left there and stopped in Journal Square and prayed for strength and guidance concerning my medical problems. We went from there to the post office, the library, a few stores, and back home. I saw my old mail carrier on the way and he remembered me. That made me feel good.

My best friend of 17 years, Samantha, came and picked me up to go see her mom. She has kidney failure and needs a donor with O-blood-type. We talked for a while, and then I went back home again. I talked on the phone with Hannah’s foster mother, Jessica, for a very long time. It was good to talk. I get to see her again on July 13th.

Keni and I walked to Walgreen’s to pick up the pictures I had dropped off. The lack of sleep caused some irritation for us today. That was kind of hard. Then, around 9:00, I crashed hard. I got so weary that I could barely walk. Keni made me something to eat and it made feel better. Today wasn’t quite as hectic as yesterday, but I’m beat. Tomorrow, I’m up very early.

 

June 7, 2009

I’ve come to realize in the past week that there is a lot that has changed here since I’ve been gone, but there is also a lot that hasn’t changed. There are a lot of people that have changed, but still a lot that haven’t changed. The “I’m home” euphoria quickly wore off and reality bit me like a vicious dog. I have to find a new place of residence a.s.a.p. So, the job hunt starts early tomorrow.

This environment is far from productive and isn’t conducive to my success. But, I’ve been through too much and have come way too far to lie down. I’ve always been a fighter. I just choose a better way to fight and I pick my battles very carefully these days. Church tonight was good. Pastor Joe sent up special prayers for my friend Paul Isbel. He has cerebral palsy and recently had a stroke that has paralyzed his right side. If you read this, please pray for him. I have two family members – my dad and my aunt – going into surgery this month as well.

The bedbugs here are still as bad as ever (even after heavy spraying), and drama is all around me home.

My house is divided. I stand in the midst of flames just like the Lord said I would. But, just like he said, He walks with me. And I know with my whole heart that when I get too weary, and God knows I will, He’ll carry me as long as I allow Him. Things are hard, but He gives me strength. Time to read his Word and then get some sleep.

 

July 1, 2009

It’s been a minute since I’ve written. I’ve been rather stressed out and busy. But, I have to say that through all the trials and hard times, God is still so good to me. The bedbugs are still trying to devour me, just not as bad, and there is a lot of chaos and turmoil in this house. But, all I can do is thank God for how good He is to me.

I have a job now, only three weeks after getting out and I’m already working. And I’m looking for an apartment. I get to take my daughter and stepson to the zoo tomorrow. I’ve been church shopping, trying to find one that suits me, and until I do, all I can say is God is Good All the Time.

 

September 13, 2009

I seem to have found some sense of normalcy to life out here.

I have stayed in church through the slips and falls, and I have been blessed beyond comparison. God is good to me. There is still a major lack of structure and that makes it very hard for me to get things done. I feel like weeks just slip away.

On the inside, in prison, I couldn’t wait for time to pass, but now I find myself wishing things would slow down a bit. More than once I have succumbed to the call of the enemy and let foulness come out of my mouth. At one weak point I even decided to have a drink and ended up having six of them, and a severe hangover the next day.

But, I tell others as well as myself: it doesn’t matter how, when, why, or how hard you fall, or how long you stay down. What matters is what you do after you fall. I see people stopping short because they can’t let go of what they’ve done. I chose to go the other way. When I fall down, I pick myself up and lay my shortcomings at the foot of the cross, and I move on with my life.

Right now, I sit in my kitchen writing this because the Lord has blessed me with an apartment of my own. I have a very sweet, elderly landlord who is a Christian man and a great person altogether. Keni is in school and still looking for work; and although life is hard at times, it is worth the effort.

And now that I am away from the mass chaos and confusion of where I was living, I hope to have time to write more often.

Nikki Jones

Nikki Jones

 

Read more by Nikki Jones

essays in Action Words

and a feature story—
Reflecting Upon Release

 

More Re-entry Chronicles

RED! writer Belinda C. details her personal experiences with re-entering society after her 20-year incarceration in prison. Ms. C. was released from Franklin Pre-Release Center (FPRC) prison in Columbus, Ohio on June 12, 2008, and now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Belinda C.

Belinda C.