Saturday, August 3, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER: Jessika Gurule

GUEST BLOGGER: Jessika Gurule

Jessika Gurule gives us a short glimpse into her world of addiction and subsequent incarceration. She speaks of her journey of finding herself amongst the challenges of prison life, her battle with addiction, and the importance of re-entry support through the Reforming Arts Program at Lee Arrendale State Prison.


I need only to blink my I eyes and see the crowded halls of my high school rushing by me. I was the quiet shy girl in the corner who only smiles for fear of embarrassment at all cost. I lived for the theater and the two periods of class that accompanied it. My seemingly endless contentment was simply a mask for the violent drug addicted home that drained me of life day after day. Eventually I surrendered to the same lifestyle as my parents. A world riddled with addiction, violence, and far worse scenarios playing out than you could ever imagine.

By twenty two this once over achieving honor student awoke one evening kneeled over on a concrete floor drenched in tears of pain and regret. I was hyperventilating for the realization that everything I once loved was gone, including most importantly my sense of self. Fifty one is the number of months that I served in at Lee Arrendale for drug trafficking. In that time I took advantage of every program that was presented to me in hope of making whatever change necessary to be healthy, happy, and productive in the world upon my re entry. I quickly learned that the system is crazy and incredibly inefficient. Society inside prison is a world unto itself.  The monotony of prison life sucks you in to some extent.

After a year at LASP I discovered the drama class taught by Wende Ballew. In the beginning classes were raw, imaginative, and very open. The class provided an outlet to express ourselves in a safe environment. Throughout my time spent at LASP I had the privilege to be present and active in the growth and development of Reforming Arts (RA). RA awakened my perspective on the world and pushed me to constantly think outside of the box. The curriculum was incredibly challenging. Personally, Reforming Arts gave me a renewed sense of hope and longing to succeed and go to college. The classes teach discipline while broadening your intellect without fail every minute that you are present. RA continues to be my greatest support in re entry. Reforming Arts and the many people involved in making it possible have helped me renew my long term goals and work diligently to continue my education while thriving among society.