Members of our Alliance share their personal stories in a variety of forums and communities to call for fair chances for people to reintegrate back into their homes and community after criminal justice involvement of all kinds. As our friends at Just Leadership USA say, “those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.”
Thomas E. Hockaday – suffering collateral consequences despite having a clean record for the past 20 years
Daryl Atkinson – an attorney who was formerly incarcerated
My name is Janay Baldwin and I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina’s School of Social Work. I chose the field of social work because I have experienced first hand the struggle that life may bring after one has been convicted of a criminal offense. As a social worker, I have the ability to touch the lives of thousands of people by sharing my story and maybe assisting others as they began to create their own.
My story is as follows: In December of 2006, I was employed at Lowe’s Home Improvement. I was 17-years old at the time that I discovered a Lowe’s credit card in a shopping cart. Instead of doing the right thing, I foolishly used the card a few days later to purchase a few house hold items. In February of 2007, I was charged with a Felony Larceny by Employee. I went to court for an entire year. By the time I had turned 19, my mistake had taken a permanent place in my life. On January 9, 2008, I was convicted of a Misdemeanor Larceny with a Prayer for Judgment.
This charge alone, was the reason I would get hired by various excellent employers, but then denied a start date due to my criminal background.
As a single mother of one, I was caught in the struggle of life. I worked dead end jobs to make ends meet. I was committed to turning my life around by getting involved in church, volunteering in the community, and going back to school to pursue a higher education. Still, it seemed as though my efforts to right my wrong went unnoticed.
Now as a social worker, I use this story to relate to other troubled youth so that they may see that anyone can learn from their mistakes and live a better life than that which includes trouble. I am now a mature, grown individual with great integrity and wisdom. I am in pursuit of a Master’s in Social Work to continue to learn, make a difference, and give back. I am confident that those who truly desire to change their lives can do the same with support from the community and a second chance in society.
Bobby’s story told through the lens of Duke Divinity School student Thomas Hargis and Duke University student Phil Watson.