Sometimes Goodbye is a Second Chance

Leslie sees this stint in jail as her chance to get clean in order to be a mother to her one-year old son although she struggles with disappointment in herself, boredom, and trepidation about the unknown future.A corrections officer shackles Leslie in order to be taken to her court arraignment on September 24, 2013.Inmates are walked across the street from the jail to the court house. Leslie is emotional after spotting her mom walking towards the court house.There is one window in the cell unit which looks beyond the grounds of the jail. Leslie says that she wants to go into a six month or longer rehab program that will allow her son to visit.Most days inmates are allowed 30 minutes of recreation time in the shadow of the court house looming above them in the jail's cement yard.Quick bonds are formed between inmates as they share a small space and a lot of time together. Leslie vaguely knew of Michelle, bottom, before being in jail together, but they have gotten acquainted, often trading food and stories.At 15 Leslie began using drugs and at 20 she started getting into legal trouble. She says, 'I really lost myself.' Leslie writes a letter to her mother. Leslie says her mom is 'the only person I have that's there for me.' Her father committed suicide when she was 8. Lunch is brought to the cell at noon. One of Leslie's chief complaints is that she is often hungry throughout the day. She has not had a chance to order extra snacks from commissary yet.Inmates are watched from the control room which is across the hall from the housing units. Often they are seen pacing around nervously before events such as court dates or visitation.Leslie and her mother, Billie Jo talk during visitation hours. Billie Jo urges Leslie to think about what she wants once she is released and how to stay out of trouble in order to be a mother to her son.After visitation, the women sit around contemplatively. They rely on one another to get through their days by explaining various jail or court procedures that arise, listening to each other's regrets and plans, and hoping that their legal issues will be resolved so that they can serve their time and be released.
Leslie abruptly went from high to low - from "running around" to wearing county-issued "stripes" while confined in a shared cell in the Grundy County Jail. She was arrested and booked on Saturday, September 21 and charged with possession of a controlled substance, a class-C felony. Three days later she appeared in court for arraignment. She stated, "I know I have a drug problem and I'm ready to get help. I don't want to lose my son." Her one-year old son, Rowdy, is being cared for by her cousin Karina. Inmates are woken up by guards at 6am for breakfast. To pass time during the day, Leslie and her cellmates "play cards, talk, cry." They discuss their cases, the past, the future, and their families. Once in awhile a song that resonates with the women plays on the radio such as Shinedown's 'Sometimes Goodbye is a Second Chance' and they will turn the volume up and sing along together. There are currently not any drug rehabilitation, education programs, or job opportunities offered at the county facility. Update: Leslie appeared before a felony court judge on October 17; the judge suspended her sentence and she was released with five years probation and follow through with rehabilitation terms set by drug court. Approximately 205,000 women are incarcerated in the US. The majority have been charged with non-violent crimes.