Prison Turned This Girl’s Life Around And Here’s Why

By : Alex Bentley |



Going to prison must be a terrifying experience for most people, but if you can use it to change yourself for the better, it could just be a great thing for you.

That first line felt weird to say, but if like this girl, you really needed the rehabilitation that some jail time can provide, then prison can be shown in a positive light.

Imgur user ihatechoosingausername was sent to prison, but decided to take photos and explain her story of transformation. She apologises for the photos not being great, as she was using a potato of a phone, but they are still an interesting insight.

This is how she tells it…


This picture was taken just days before I was locked up. I was arrested for heroin possession. I am trying my very best to stay clean now, though. I was losing weight at a rate of about 5 lbs per week when this was taken.


This was just now taken with my potato of a phone. This is me 3 months and 30 lbs later. I feel like I look a lot healthier now that I’m sober and gained some weight. Jail honestly probably saved my life.


This here is Henrico County Jail West. Henrico is a fairly large county so we have 2 jails. East and West. West is awful. It’s absolutely disgusting and overcrowded. We were sleeping 6 to a cell here.


This is your typical cell at jail west. There’s a top bunk there that’s out of frame but this is the best picture I could find. How we fit 6 to a cell: 1 on each bunk then 4 mats laid out horizontally (so the feet are under the bottom bunk).


Again, sorry for potato, I don’t have a better camera than my phone available right now. I learned a lot in jail, one of these things being how to do jail tattoos. This is mine on the back of my neck. Our “tattoo gun” was made from a ball point pen, a staple that was sharpened with a nail file, and some string from a sheet. Ink is made by burning Vaseline and collecting the soot then mixing it with state shampoo.


This is called a “swole.” Since we ate dinner at 4PM, you get very hungry before lockdown rolls around at 11:30PM. So, we “cook” with the things you can buy on canteen. I didn’t get canteen often and when I did it was only a few dollars worth of food, so I would draw things for people or gamble on spades games to earn food. A swole is basically ramen noodles, various chips, beef and cheese sticks, hot pickle, and cheese puffs all crushed up then thrown in a bag with some hot water, squished around for a bit then eaten.


After my first month in jail, we got word the ACA (American Correctional Association) was going to be inspecting Jail West. In order to not appear overcrowded, they transferred nearly half of us to Jail East and overcrowded East instead. Good news is East was MUCH nicer, it was clean, you could walk around since the pod was significantly larger, and you got to go outside to walk to the chow hall.


We used to joke that Jail East was the retirement home for convicts. Everyone spent the day playing cards, drinking coffee, and watching soap operas on daytime public access tv.


I spent so much time counting down the days to my court date when I would sit in this very holding cell for about 7 hours. If court is at 9, they bring you down to the holding cell at 5AM and don’t bring you back up until after 2PM count. On one hand it was nice to have all that time to think, on the other the anxiety was a full-time job.


I was released on May 27th. I was sentenced to time served and indefinite probation (yes, apparently that’s a thing in Virginia) Lucky for me, the probation is a rather strict program which is doing a good job at keeping me away from heroin.


Finding a job as a felon is fucking difficult. Before I went to jail I was working as an IT Consultant. Now that I’m a convicted felon fresh out of jail, finding work has NOT been easy. I’ve applied for everything from food service to retail to jobs in my actual field. I haven’t been able to find anything yet.


This is where I was homeless in the winter of 2013 and it looks like I’ll be headed back here soon. It’s kinda funny, I spent my whole time in jail thinking about how great it would be to get out, and instead it’s been more stressful than if I had just stayed in. At least in jail I knew where my next meal was coming from.


I really don’t know what to do with myself right now. Putting your life back together after being locked up isn’t easy. I know people do it all the time, but honestly I just don’t know how. I don’t have any family I can turn to for help or even emotional support. The stress of being out has me seriously depressed. Honestly, I have contemplated just ending it all (don’t worry, I haven’t attempted it) I’ve tried to seek out Offender Aid programs here, but there isn’t much when you don’t live on a bus line, have a suspended license, and have no way to make it to the banks. I really miss being able to afford food and housing. Hopefully I can rebuild my life one step at a time.

Fair play to the girl.

I hope she manages to find her feet properly and get herself sorted out, and most importantly, get off the streets and stay drug-free.


  1. Imgur