I have often said that spending time in prison is like a soldier going off to war with a few major differences. As a felon there is no pride like going off to war to serve your country. No integrity for the person you are, only shame for the person you have become, followed by the gripping fear knowing you have hurt someone somehow and not knowing how to make that right.

Many people have asked me why then I say it’s like going off to war, and this is my answer. From the moment you step off that bus and the gates lock behind you, in that very instant, something changes. It feels like you just parachuted out of a plane and landed in hostile territory, where, with every step you take, you don’t know who is friend or foe. Every day not knowing if you will survive.

Your intentions are to serve your time while becoming a better person than you were before. To acknowledge your wrongdoings and work through the issues that caused you to get to prison in the first place.

The problem is that to do these things, you have to have the emotional tools to work through these issues. It’s pretty hard to dig deep and bare your soul in a battlefield. Trust me when I say that every day in prison is a physical and emotional battlefield. Your first priority everyday is just to survive.

Many women in prison have somehow—thru life, relationships, or other issues—lost their voice. And in prison, you are taught to just keep your mouth shut and do your time. Every day you are afraid to express your feelings not knowing who you may piss off.

Many people may not realize that California has shut down most educational and self-help classes. Most inmates leave prison with the same issues they came in with, which unfortunately usually results in them coming back again. This is why I feel Laughing on the Inside is such a unique and amazing idea. To be able to teach these women self-expression, humor, and public speaking is an amazing gift. I know without a doubt that Laughing on the Inside can encourage these women, give them the confidence they need and help them find their voice. It won’t change the entire world, but it will change the way the women see the world. A world they can now express themselves in.

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