I will not hide my prison time after I release. I am an American, a parent, a grandparent, a friend, a lover, a Seahawks and Mariners fan. I love vanilla ice cream, baking, blackberries…ooh I love blackberries. I am also formerly incarcerated for a sex offense. I am all of these things. I have learned a lot, made a lot of changes, accepted lots of help. I value safe communities, safe families. I value law enforcement and public servants. I believe in safe neighboring and accountability.

I hate that I hurt someone, someone I do (and did) care for. I wish I could rewind time, I’d make the changes I needed to make and I wouldn’t have missed all of my kids’ sweet 16, first dates, hugs, or any other major milestone I’ll never get back. But I’ll never regret my time in prison. It helped me. Prison didn’t help me, per se, but it did enable me to meet people I will carry in my heart forever.

I met this therapist, more like an Angel, who helped me so dramatically that I owe them my life. I will *always* owe this person gratitude and if there is ever a legal way for me to get this person some serious recognition for their work as a whole, you can bet I’ll do it. They changed my life.

I met a civil rights attorney who has been impactful on an entire demographic, the transgender community- of which I am more than unashamed to say I am part of. But they have been more than an attorney to me, they’ve been a ray of hope, friend, mentor, father figure, and yeah, an angel too. I’m glad I met them, I’ll never regret them…
or the reporters…
other inmates…
officers…
sex offender therapists…
educators…
college professors…

I am not ashamed I was in prison. Instead, I’m thankful. What I did was awful but the community I hurt picked me back up again and held me close and said “we still love you and we’re going to do everything we can to fix what’s broken”.

I responded “I don’t deserve that but I will not fail you again.”

Wherever I go I will not hide my past. I have been so shaped by my experiences in prison that I cannot keep it hidden.

I am an asset to the community.

I am an asset to an employer.

To my family.

I hold no grudges, I hold no ill will, no anger or resentment towards anyone. I only want to be part of healing and love and kindness and respect. I want to be part of making this world safe and lovely to be in. I think that’s possible and I’ll never run away from or hide what helped me understand that, prison.

Prison, as a system, is toxic and abusive. But the people who interact with it, who work here, who are subjected to it, are beautiful and wonderful. Those who visit or lobby for change or write inmates or fight for programs or books or rights…these people are heroes. You know who else is heroic? Those who are courageous enough to make the changes needed within themselves even after making a terrible mistake- of which I am proud to be part of.

Thank you for listening and if you would like to learn more about me or how to help in a meaningful way, please email me

[email protected]

With Love
Ruth Utnage