SARASOTA, Fla. (FOX 13) - They say life is what you make of it and a Sarasota woman says she’s living proof.
The former inmate shared her experience and determination to turn her life around while she was in the Sarasota County Jail.
A year ago, Kristen Mitchell was booked in. A year later, she says she’s a new woman thanks to the opportunities and guidance from an unlikely place.
Mitchell isn’t ashamed of her past. For her, the only direction is forward. She says she wants to be a “normal citizen” and, most of all, not labeled as a drug addict.
On the one-year anniversary of turning her life around she’s taking the internet by storm. In a viral Facebook post, the former Sarasota County inmate shared her troubled history and the transformation she’s made to regain her life.
“I definitely knew that turning myself in was going to be the solution,” Mitchell said.
She had hit rock bottom. Mitchell says she stole and pawned items for money. And she was wanted for grand theft auto. But life in jail turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
The Sarasota County Jail prides itself in the dozens of specialized programs it offers inmates who want to regain their lives.
“They’ve never had people that actually believed in them so having these programs here at the jail helps build confidence to rebuild their life,” nelson
For Mitchell, that meant recovering from addiction in the jail’s Addiction Recovery Pod, a voluntary program that provides medical and mental health treatment.
Once inmates are released from jail, in partnership with the Salvation Army, they can continue their therapy for another six, intensive weeks, through out-patient services.
“For me, it was a support system,” Mitchell said.
Looking back, she admits the journey has been challenging. But she’s thankful for having the opportunity.
The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office says it’s always working to develop and advance its inmate programs. This week, they hosted their first inmate job fair and they say at least seven got offers.