Going to prison helped me find myself.

Before my crime, I was in a very dark place. I’d worked so hard to build my career. I wasn’t known to police, I wasn’t in gangs, I wasn’t selling drugs. I’m not normally a violent person, but I was going through some personal issues and my emotions got the better of me.

When I got to prison I just started writing everything down. I was communicating with myself. Whatever emotion it was, I just wrote about it. Rather than getting angry with someone, I’d write it down and put it to one side. One day someone asked to read my book. They were like, “Brenda ... this is poetry!”

Now that that I’m out, writing is helping me stay out of trouble. I want to show people that you can come from a criminal background and still do good. I’m unchaining myself from my past and the stigma of being an ex-offender. I’m free to be whoever I want to be.

Brenda, workshop leader and former prisoner.