They Locked Up My Body But They Could Not Take My Mind! 30 Years of Incarceration

by Coleman Jefferson


"I woke up on a typical day and left my place of residence, not knowing this would be the last time I would come to this place, sleep in my bed, and eat in my kitchen. I did not know that the next time I would be a free man would be 30 years later."

Coleman said he was living a destructive life that was not the result of drugs and alcohol, but an addictive lifestyle. Coleman said that regardless of all the negative consequences, he still could not stop his negative lifestyle. He said people do not know that lifestyle becomes a strong addiction because of the adrenaline flow that mimics drug and alcohol addiction. He said he had and saw more money than he could have ever imagined. However, it all came with a price 30 years of his life behind bars.


Coleman said when he was sentenced to 30 years at the age of 31, he thought he would never be a free man again, and that is when he told himself They Locked Up My Body, But They Can Not Take My Mind.

After reality kicked in, Coleman said he began to reflect on what his father told him that a "man knows how to fight his battle." This reflection allowed him to get busy with what he needed to do for himself. He realized he lacked knowledge which was the primary factor to how and why he got so much time. Coleman said he began to stimulate his mind by staying in the library and working a job within the prison system, which allotted him more freedom than the other inmates. He said the library opened his eyes to study the law, which ended with him becoming a paralegal. Although he assisted many inmates, he still could not get himself out of prison. Therefore, completing 30 straight years in the penal system.


I Refused to Believe the Statistics!!!!


At 61 years of age, I was finally being released. I was informed that many people incarcerated for this length of time almost always return. However, I told myself I would never repeat this cycle. So, I began to think of what was needed in my life to give myself a chance. He said that is when he decided not to return to familiar territory. I heard about recovery homes and said this would be my best bet if I wanted a different life.


Coleman said being locked up for 30 years and coming out here was different from what he remembered, and he knew he needed to get with the right people. Coleman said the recovery home referred him to TEECH. He said TEECH made him feel welcomed and safe while he was adjusting back into society at a pace that would not overwhelm him, also while getting his first job. Then again, he was able to work on his thinking and behavior with truly understanding two words: choice and allow. It is his choice, and nothing can happen unless he allows it.


I Am an Abiding Citizen


Coleman said I am not a statistic but an abiding citizen. I have been home for five years and have successfully moved back into society. I am currently married, active in my child and family life, I purchased a home and vehicle. I work two jobs and am still the recovery home manager and preparing to take my CADC. Coleman says, "no matter how it looks, keep moving forward and do not allow anyone or anything to take control of your mind."


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