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Peer Voices

An Incarcerated Person is Vulnerable, whether Guilty or Innocent

Dec 9th, 2020

Between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, I experienced the Lew Sterrett Justice Center and the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC). Now, as coronavirus cases continue to increase in Texas, I cannot imagine what it is like being incarcerated. As an inmate, you are in a very vulnerable position, whether you want to be or not. You are vulnerable, whether you are guilty or innocent. The coronavirus in the jail and prison environment is dangerous, and inmates are vulnerable for many reasons.

First, inmates are constantly exposed to guards and other inmates, who are in and out the revolving door. Jail and prison have three eight-hour shifts, and some jails and prisons have two twelve-hour shifts. No matter the number or length of the shift, inmates are exposed to new people each time.



Amber’s Home

Dec 3rd, 2020

I’ve been coming to Sunrise Church in Austin for a few years, first as a fugitive and more recently as someone who has found sobriety, housing and work through my connection to the Sunrise Homeless Navigation Center. I’ve also felt enfolded by the Sunrise church family and consider it my home base.
I grew up in Crosby and Deerpark, out by Houston. I’m an only child. My parents had a lot of money, so it was a comfortable situation. We traveled a lot growing up. My parents were Southern Baptist and I grew up heavily in the church. I left home when I was about 16 and got pregnant at 17. That’s when I decided to get married. My first husband and I were married for seven years. He had a drug problem, but coming from my naïve background, I had no exposure to drug use. He would party a lot and come back broke and drunk. Our bills were always late and it wasn’t a safe situation.



Stop Criminalizing Health Issues

Feb 3rd, 2020
Kevin Garrett

If someone has a broken leg how much time should they be offered? How about if someone is diagnosed cancer, what should their sentence be? Sounds ridiculous, but that is exactly what the criminal justice system has been doing since the 70’s.  Criminalizing what should be a heath care issue and locking people up for



Castanita’s Journey

Dec 10th, 2019
Castanita Fitzpatrick

I was born in Chicago Illinois. Who would ever thought that my life would end up the way it did? As a child I was molested at an early age, got involved with drugs and the lifestyle. My grandmother tried her best to make a home for me, but I wanted and needed the love, and acceptance from my mother.  My life wasn’t like most; the horrific part of my life started when I was 5 years old, when I was molested by my mother’s boyfriend.  I dropped out of school in the 6th grade, and eventually was introduced to powder cocaine. At the age of 11 I found out that my mother was in Cleveland Ohio, so I hitched hiked to Cleveland to find her.



Tough Love: The Ultimate Oxymoron

Oct 21st, 2019
Kevin presenting at an African American Mental Health Conference

“Tough love” is a fallacious sentiment that can be seen in dance recitals, peewee league football games, and worst of all – families dealing with substance use disorder. When my dearly departed grandmother started showing signs of dementia, I didn’t think to myself, “I’m going to quit talking to her, that’ll show her.” No, because



Interview with a Peer in a Texas County Jail

Oct 1st, 2019

Until recently, Carolina was working with incarcerated people experiencing mental illness, providing information about resources they could use once out: housing, jobs and medical care. But she learned that first she had to overcome their distrust and fear. And some of them were very anxious—wondering if they will fail again once they are back in the free world.



Transcending Foster Care and TDCJ

Sep 1st, 2019
Veronica Lockett and kids

My name is Veronica Lockett. I am a 37-year-old native of Austin, Texas and the mother of a happy, healthy, beautiful fourteen-year-old daughter, Raney, and seven-year-old son, Ryan. I have acquired both positive and negative experiences from my childhood in the Texas foster care system. I continue to overcome the effects of past abuse and neglect as I aspire to achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency. I hold a Bachelor and Master’s in Social Work from Texas State University. While my license is expired, I practiced as licensed social worker with child victims of human trafficking. Most recently, I graduated from UNT Dallas College of Law in Dallas, Texas.



Role of Peers – “Would you like to fly?”

Aug 18th, 2019
Hogg Peer Policy Fellows

It has been demonstrated time and time again that people with like experiences can better understand and relate to others living in similar experiences. Peers are coaches, mentors, advocates, and sometimes confidants. They are often bi-lingual and have talents beyond anything that can be taught in a classroom setting. They speak “street smarts”, empathy, and



Where we belong

Aug 11th, 2019
Kevin Garrett

Over thirty years ago I got heavily involved in drugs, into the streets, and ultimately into the criminal justice system. I was snared into a system that was unjust, unfair, and financially burdensome for taxpayers. 2007 marked the end of my “hard knocks” learning period. As life started getting better and clearer, I began to