Wilkeitha Washington Full Interview


I've been in and out of jail since I was 15…

It was very rough for me coming up as a girl. I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana and you know when I was younger we didn't have a lot of options that they have now to help better ourselves. At 19, I became a parent so now I went to selling drugs in that is felt like this, well I had to be in this cause gonna get me when I'm going at. I didn't worry about school. I ain't worried about nothing like that knowing that I'm smart enough for the criteria, to meet the criterias and everything. I just didn't feel like there was time right there, have to worry about me and the baby. Katrina hit and made it more rough. I lost everything, you know, and then I'm raising a baby who's three months old so that really put in my head that if I want to do right, I got a sell more drugs and make some money. Then it went to...I hit a brick wall and I wind up going to jail and as of me going to jail, I went to New Orleans, Orleans' Parish prison. I went to all of them, so they don't really be specific with one I went.  I went to all of them. Every one they have in Orleans, I went to it and it became a cycle. Then it was like everything I did. Then I thought about being locked up on probation. When I signed up for  probation, it's like I'm still locked up because I'm ordered not to do what I want to do and I'm gonna get in trouble. Meaning, "yeah we letting you out, but while your're on probation, do what you do again and you gonna be back". And that's one thing where they told us that we become taking convictions being parents and being mothers. They have a lot of places for the men, but the women, they know what to tell a woman to be like "you're gonna get out".

So, we went into sign whatever and do whatever. If I knew what I know now about the system when I was signing convictions; I got three convictions and I kept signing them because I want to get home to my children. Even though I didn't blame them for putting me down, making me sign them, but they giving me what I wanted to hear: me coming home. And that affected my life, so I'm on parole right now and I just, I get off in October, but it's hard because now I have to go to drug classes. I can't really start school. I can't do too much with my kids. And I had went to St Gabriel and I did 18 months  up there and when I came home, you know, I started a different path, like which I'm working on right now, but it's hard. It's very hard. Low, low paying jobs, I got 4 kids, no dads, one incarcerated and one deceased. kids, no dads, one incarcerated and one deceased. And it's like my kids are young, who else are they gonna depend on are they gonna depend on. So, I have responsibilities for them and it caused me to lot of things that I didn't want to do. So, it then got to the point to where I don't even want to be in New Orleans at all no more cause the sin(?) like it just entrapped me. Either debt or the jails. And it's not...I'm not saying this is not no place for no man, but it's definitely not no place for no woman.  Especially with kids. So, it's like if you want to better yourself, you have to get from down here because it's an entrapment up and down here. And it don't matter what you went for and nowadays is so easy, you can call after we leave out here (?) and says that I hit you, knowing I didn't touch you, but by me on paper and me having a record, they gonna automatically believe what you say because you don't have one and I didn't experience the system. You have you sitting in there just for me being on parole because to them I'd then got in trouble again. You know I'm saying? So, it's kind of hard and I've been trying to stay out of trouble, be trying to stay out the system. Yet here we are again. I'm in the drug program, fighting a charge, knowing I was doing wrong, but being a liar don't be the worst thing.

You know so I'm fighting the charge as we speak and hoping that they let me go and give me more probation so it's like I get off them paper and I told, but I got to get right back on. It's crazy!

But that's what they do us with this system. Even though we get into trouble, but we do make a lens (??) and then they make us pay for it.

I got one conviction, my first conviction in 2012. I was definitely 20, 20 something. I been having...I've gotten a conviction every year

12, 13, 14, 15. It's 2018. I got 4 convictions.

Like my kids I try. My kids, they not looking for me to go to jail, but my kids got to a point to where they won't even be surprised if I go because I'm in and out. Don't get me wrong, I take care of them. I'm a great mom. They love me to death and they don't get is like...when I go to jail, they in jail. Because nobody gonna treat your children like you treat your kids. So, I try my best to stay out of trouble and it's hard. It's hard especially from experience in me selling drugs and making money that I'm used to. Now I have to do a 9:00 to 5:00, not that I don't want to work. It's just like I'm slaving for more money that I used to receive. Not saying selling drugs is right, but they not even paying me right to even my services of slavery, you know. So, it's crazy, you know, and it's hard.

Finding the right job. Like once we get a record... I mean now they made a law about the hire convicted felonies, it's not that they could hire us, they could just take our applications. They don't have to hire us. I mean they could do their report, consider it, take it, but they don't have to hire us. They just gonna let us know that we took... so we can't even be honest with them on the application when we know we got a conviction. Just because I got a conviction don't mean I can't do this work just as much as her if she don't have one, but that's what they go off of. So, it kind of make us get discouraged to well, put that. And then all these jobs and then just because of my background, I can't work. You know I'm saying! And they make us turn our head and go back to the things we used to do that we know gonna gave us money. Just like I'm looking for this job right now. They aint' stopping me from still needing this money that's going day by day till I find a job and when I get this job... I'm at this job, I'm loving this job, my background then came back. Gotta let me go. Why? I didn't stop working and I'm on time, I do what I got to do. My record... that's what it be. Be our record, meaning our previous life be haunting us, for us to do better.

That's it. My children. Cause I tell you I'm not saying is no good thing, but if I didn't have my children, I don't know what I be doing..what I'd be doing. I'm just trying to do it right because anybody can go to jail. Everybody can go to jail. You know some people who could go to jail who don't have no kids and I'm not saying it it making it easy for them, but it's making it easier for a person that don't, you know,  have kids. I have four. I have 13, 10, 7, and 5. All different personalities, you know what I'm saying, I got beautiful, wonderful children and hurts me to know I am wrong. Even though they ,you know, they bug me, but when you get in jail you miss all that bugging and they getting on your nerves and that who do whooping and hollering and screaming and trying to be at the bathing (?). You the coats (??) for everything. You get used to doing that and you miss it, you know, and this is my job!  Even though I have a job that gotta help me pay, I gotta do this for free, but it's a job. I don't mind doing this, you know. So, maybe that's like me going to school. I signed up for school yesterday for a massage therapists, but it's a um...a little community college and went their heads on for business because that's what I want to do, I want to own my own business. I can run a business, but I don't know if these people work behind me, so I'm going to school for it. So, when I got there they didn't have business, but by me never being in school before when I got my high school diploma and I then went through that you know all I want to do is go to school. I missed the deadline on Delgato and stuff because I didn't know how it really go. I don't know nothing about it. It's my first time. So, they told me I got to start in the spring. So, I'm like why don't I go get me a little college, but I didn't understand that you can't get into a college, finish it...you still once you  complete you still don't have to pay so by then they have business. I took a... I was trying to see what they have. Medical field, I'm not into, so all they had was massage therapist and I'm also not in to medical field because of my background because I don't want to complete something in my background. Have me doing all this for nothing. They can say what they want, it's not going to, you know what I'm saying, it's not   gonna mess with you ??, but it will mess with me. It's gonna mess with me and I'm not into it to. I want to... I'm into business, I'm into interior decorating, I'm a realtor, I'm into something else, but they didn't have it at the school. I still signed up for the school just to feel like I'm doing something right because the dirt (??) and when you, you know, I got these kids and I don't have nothing to show, but conviction and a diploma. I'm not doing nothing and then I have too much sense not to be doing nothing. So, I signed the papers and went I thought about. This ain't nothing bad. Nobody don't mind paying back for school that they something passionate about. I'm not passionate about a massage therapist, you know. I'm just taking it because I'm qualified. Don't rush what you're qualified for, you know I'm saying. If it's time and you go to Delgato when it's time in, it ain't the end. It's my first time, but I just feel like I'd be putting myself in debt for something that I'm not really, not really debt, but I'd be paying something back for something that I'm not passionate about. So, I called the lady and told them. I just did that while, before you came and got me. I'm like I called her and told her I'm not interested. I'm interested, but I'm just not interested which y'all have, you know what I mean. I'm trying. It's just like I feel like I'm not doing anything.

Yeah, I want to run a kiddie parlor, meaning where the kids get their hair done. And the guys do...the boys get their hair cut. You know, have the game rooms and stuff and I have kids so whatever I want to do in a business, I want to be kid oriented, children oriented. A lot of people having kids, a lot of people know me. I have a sense of humor. I can run a business, but I don't know the paperwork behind my business and that's what I'm going to school to do. You know and I'm very passionate about it and I just say I'm have to wait before I just sign something just to do it to say I'm in school and then it ain't what I really wanted to do.

But I'm not letting my record stop me. I'm not letting going to court... I go to drug court right now. I'm in court right and I'm going to court Monday like this...is this is what I do. You know, I'm saying...I'm doing this more than taking care of myself. This ain't no business what I'm doing about going to jail and getting out and paying binds. I'm just...if I was to get a gold star about a record dealing with the, the jail system, I have a metal, I have a certificates but that's old. You know what I'm saying?  I don't want a completion that I had to go to jail to complete drug court, had to go jail to complete substance abuse, had to go to jail could took a plea parenting and stuff. I want something new, you know! I sat and cry the other day, like I'm 31 years old and I can talk to a lot of people, but you can't seem to take your own advice and I'm getting sick of it!

I pray and I talked to my kids and I stay inside because I have friends, which you have friends for certain things, like my friend that made me go to the college. I mean you know we're not tight as we used to be, but she always want something positive, you know what I'm saying? And the friends that I rush out the door too is negative. So, I try to stay inside and stay with my kids to clear my head so I won't make a wrong decision. I didn't grow up a lot. You know you couldn't get me to not go out with my friends jumping calls (cars?). And let's look for boys. No, listen, while you still have all these children, grow up. Grow up and don't get me wrong, it took me this year. You know, I just made 31 and it took me this year  to really sit down and, you know, really realize that I needed to do something with myself.

Yeah, I'm beyond mentored. By me being in a lot of facilities a lot of people know me and you also know me...I had a bad reputation from fighting. Always being angry and stuff. I don't know... I'm being, you know, I was a like a bully or something like that, but that's how they recognized me and they wouldn't know that I have sense. They won't know I could read these people back to front...that I could comprehend. I could count and all that that

You know, I mean, if that's what you want to think me because that's how it came up, which is fine, but I don't want to think of myself like that. I used to think like that of me too the same way you think about me. I'm get this! I can do this! You know what I'm saying, so when I go to jail it's really like that I'd be... I'd be the first. My first trip to the jail. It was chaotic.

I was very chaotic when I first gone to jail. I was fight this is... no revoking... just because I could get away with it and I knew how to fight you know so it's all I wanted to do. Fight, fight, fight, but what I noticed is that fighting ain't getting you anywhere. You're gonna keep coming in here. You're gonna get on lock down like end of the day now they've got everybody rowdy from me like and "Oh she beat her up, she beat her up" but I'm in trouble. I'm on lock down. It's cause they don't like me you won't be bigoted(??). Nobody ain't beat you yet, you know I'm saying? I had that mentality when I went to jail, like I don't care if I go, I can do all that. And I had to wake up. Who I saw was who I was really hurting my mom, my kids, leaving my mama to struggle with kids, you know what I'm saying. She had us. It ain't fair to her. It's really not. People get mad if they want. It's not fair to nobody to take up responsibility when you go to jail. So, when I went this time, I really sat back and thought about it like "man, this ain't no place for me." I can't come back in here. I mean my time, I can't tell you that my stay was messed up in jail, because it wasn't because I'm knew how to handle it. Some people that cannot handle it. That ain't nothing I want to handle, but I know how to take care of myself, but I don't want to be remembered like that. I don't want to be told when to go to sleep, when to get up, what to eat, how to eat. My last experience that was at St. Gabriel. I was... what I was on, I was like a trustee. Trustee is the person that not on a violent crime, but could work at the building like cleaning up and stuff like that for the medical building where you go off campus and stuff. They had this lady there and she wasn't mean whatever, but the person who I used to be with was a friend of mine. This is her second time being there and they put her on the same job with ladies that really didn't care for her. They heard this lady didn't have eyes(?) or something. So, I noticed when I met her she don't treat me no certain kind of way, but when my friend with me, she awful. Don't get me wrong, I mean I didn't even know y'all had something that y'all wanted to but don't get mad at me. I mean she lied on me. I had like 20 days to come home and she lied to us. In the automatic she writes you up, ain't no "if, ands or buts". You're going straight to lie down. You ain't about to see what's going on. Now the way she thought cause she knew my friend was wild and stuff so the way she thought how I was rapid (rocket??) meaning how I was in jail. She thought wrong when she thought but I wasn't no messing up, busting tickets. Tickets is write up. I don't have none of that. I've been here for six months. I don't have a write up or nothing. So, your first time when you're first time ever getting a ticket you get a warning like a reprimand, like "it's okay we don't talk about it then try again". So, I had 20 days to come home. I don't care what's going on. I don't know a person that got 20 days and going sit up there and do some. They have some now. They got some people that ain't ready to come home, they got people ain't ready to face society. I'm not one of them! Ain't nothing they could have did to make me not come home in 20 days to my kids. The lady put me on lock down for six weeks (??) days (??) flat.

Because she said that we were disrespecting her was... she was ?? with the other girl but I'm with her. See how ?? people got me a attitude. She liked both of them so she locked us up and it's they sent us back. She was surprised to see us come back because what she thought that we had a better record we didn't have no record. We got a warning. We back. She couldn't wait. It wasn't... it wasn't a week. She wind up making up another story saying we cursed her out. We did this...

and she lied to (??) her six months, but me knowing me and knowing I ain't do nothing. I'm like "God ain't about to let this happen to me." I read the book. I read the manual book about what's right and what's wrong and I also completed parenting anger management, substance abuse, and I was trying to complete reentry. I had 20 more days so...but I received certificates. Once you receive a certificate...certificate of something once you...if you go on lock down if you ain't got no certificate, they could take it away and make you start over. But if you're on lock down and you have certificates forwards automatically counted for. So, I had a whole year counted for. I didn't even have that long to do up in there. I had another month. Like I telling you like thirty more days. I read the book front to back before I approached the judge and talking about going, you know, going up to the board to see what's on. You have to make sure you have everything together. I sit there for like a month, analyze everything. Got the, um, policy book and everything and I got myself out of jail. Out of lock down, without a lawyer, without anybody because I know I didn't deserve it. I was over my time. So, if they'd had kept me anymore here, they'd would have had to wind up paying me. I could have sued them.

Yeah, so they was telling me there was a rumor about having a one hour class. By the time they saw what I did and read everything and got it together when they realized they were two months over my time. I went...I went into that one hour class that they said they didn't have and got released from jail.

So, I'm like, if I know I'm smart enough to do this, to get myself out of situations like this and able to talk. There's a lot of ways that I were clean, like the shelter. I went to a shelter, my paper work is free. Ain't paying nothing. Got me houses, got me a car.

Hotel Hope is a shelter for battered woman. Children and women. I went there. Lot of help there, helped me with the kids. 45 days. Got me and my kids a house. You know by my mom and stuff. Coming home starting like that. It was like I had to start over. That's another thing. You go to jail, you have to start.

Every time! Every time, you lose everything. People don't hold nothing, people don't send you nothing. People can say that, but you know and you also the understand, people got their own problems. Like you'd then made your problem. I can't make your problem my problem. So, I'm tired of giving people problems. I'm tired of making problems for myself. So, I need change.