Your Past Does Not Define Your Future
By the time Helenia Bragg was 15, she had a full-blown heroin habit. “I was raised in a ‘liquor house’ in 1960s and 1970s Alexandria,” Helenia explained. “My mom was a bootlegger. My father was a drug dealer.”
She first went to prison at 17 for drug possession, then cycled in and out of prison for the next 30 years. When she was released the first time, she returned to a home that was riddled with crime and drugs. When she was released the second time, her parents had died and extended family members wanted nothing to do with her. Without a secure place to go, she returned to friends who enabled her drug habit, returned to crime to support it and returned to prison again. Then again.
Helenia was in the middle of her fourth prison sentence and about to turn 50 at Fluvanna Correctional Center in Troy, Va., when she came to the realization that changed her life:
“If I don’t use drugs, I don’t commit crimes. If I don’t commit crimes, I don’t go to prison.”