According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,220,300 adults were incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, and county jails in 2013 – about 0.91% of adults (1 in 110) in the U.S. resident population.
Like many I have spent most of my life without a father, and considering I call two men Dad I would say that’s pretty sad. My biological Father Phillip has spent more than 80% of my life behind bars. He is currently serving a 15 year sentence in a federal prison. When I was 3 I met my second Dad Chris. My mother and him were only married 5 years, but together they had my baby brother Rollin. I loved Chris from the moment he came into my life and I love him just as much if not more today. His family is my family, I have been blessed to have them in my life for the last 22 years.
My Dad(Chris) was arrested in April 2011, and he is being released in one week. It’s amazing what has changed in 5 years. Just to paint how quickly life changes; I was 20 when he was arrested, unmarried and had just broken up with my long-term girlfriend Kaylee. Rollin was in the 9th grade only 15, now he’s 20 and a father of his own. Our oldest sister Renee has had 2 children in his absence! Here is Chris and I at my high school graduation, I was 17. He was arrested less than 3 years later.
I would often get sad thinking of both of my fathers in a prison cell somewhere, all alone. Frozen in time while the world continues to grow and develop. With his release only days away my mind is in constant turmoil. Knowing that this time will be unlike any other release he’s had over the years, the last time he was released from prison I was in high school. I’m an adult now with my own life, is there still room for him? During Chris’s current term his mother and father sold his childhood home and moved to a neighboring town where his grandparents still live. I was concerned when they sold the house, somehow thinking it would hinder him emotionally to relapse and ultimately end up in prison again.
Chris is currently serving the remainder of his time in a work center in Boise, Idaho. The work center provides outside work for inmates and allows them to leave the center to join the work force. Dad was lucky to land a job at some car dealership, instantly making friends. Chris is a construction worker by trader, a fix it Felix type man. That being said, he can make friends and fit in anywhere, I have never met someone who didn’t like my Dad. It wasn’t until recently my father made the brave choice to stay in Boise after his release and enter a half-way house. He would continue to work for the same company and further work through his probation up there. When I heard this, two thoughts and emotions came to mind.
The first was anger, as if he didn’t care I had spent the last 5 years without him. Almost a feeling of abandonment, a new chance at a new life without my siblings and I. Wanted to scream at him through the phone, “do you not know Rollin needs a father figure!”. I often forget my little brother has turned 20, his life is made up of his own chooses. In my mind for the last year I had created a mirage of how life would change once my father had returned to town. As if he’s presences alone would fix all of our family’s issues since he had been away.
The second emotion came instantly after, a feeling of being ashamed at myself. Here I was crying at the fact my Dad, for once in his life is making the best decision for himself. I often believed that outside Chris’s addiction to the drugs was the need to do whatever he had to do to support our family. Only moments after the news, after my initial breakdown, I was overjoyed. Once again I began to imagine my father’s life in Boise after the half-way house. Would he find a girl? Re-marry? I’m a sucker for a romantic ending.
This next week is going to be a roller-coaster of emotions. Chris gets out the 21st, my sister Renee is getting married the 22nd, and I’m trying my hair blue the 23rd. Happy moments are coming my way! The little girl inside of me hopes Chris and Andy hit it off from the start, like most people I have a strong relationship to my parents and their approval means the world to me. I hope and pray that Chris has finally over come his addiction to not only the substances but the lifestyle that comes along with fast money. I pray that never again will I have to say goodbye to him, I hope his life blossoms for him.
One week Daddy, I can’t wait to finally hug you. Please God let this time be the last time, take him to the right door and guide him down his path. It can only go up for him after this.