Celebrating Second Chance Month: How Telling My Story Helps Break the Cycle

Maggie speaking at a From Prison to Power event behind a table with an SLC banner

I was just a teenager when I first started using drugs. After feeling the effects of drugs for the first time, I remember thinking, “This must be what happiness is.” I had spent every moment in survival mode for as long as I could remember. I had finally found a way to escape and numb the pain. For the next 20 years, that was my only solution until I completely lost everything – my family, my children, and myself. 

In 2016, I was arrested on a drug possession charge. This was not my first time being incarcerated. All of my charges were directly related to my addiction, and the system had become a revolving door for me. I knew I was going to be sentenced to prison, and I had already lost custody of my 3 children. I was hopeless and had become a woman with nothing left to lose. I was tired. I wanted out, but this was the only life I knew. 

After connecting with peer support in prison, I was given a pathway to check into a treatment center. I began trauma therapy and learned healthy ways to deal with the pain I had been running from for so long. I was given the cushion and support I needed for a successful reentry. 

This April 5th marked my 6th year off of all drugs. I could not even put a week together for 20 long years. Today I am grateful for the life I live. I have been given the opportunity to use my past to help others who are experiencing the same cycle. 

There are millions of people who have lost everything to addiction and who have been cycling through the carceral system with no hope of ever getting out. I want these people to know there is hope, that it will not be easy but it will be worth it. 

Formerly incarcerated advocates paved the way for me. I saw successful people who had experiences like mine, and I met many people in recovery working to change the way that addiction is viewed in our society.  

My experience has shown me that prison was not the answer. I never walked out as a better person – I walked out with nothing and was desperate. I was given hope from someone who had walked in my shoes, after hearing about their experiences and seeing them thrive in spite of their record. I was inspired by their story. This made me feel that my story could help others, and I decided to start speaking publicly about my experiences. 

I'm a felon, a mother, a recovering addict, and a survivor. Once I was open about my addiction, my incarceration, and my recovery, I started to see hope in the eyes of others. People told me that they were able to keep going when it seemed impossible because they’d heard my story. 

I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my story with others. I know that my story can help those who are struggling with addiction, incarceration, or other challenges. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance, and I'm committed to helping others get the help they need. 

If you’ve been personally impacted by the criminal punishment system in Texas, we invite you to learn about the Statewide Leadership Council (SLC), a group of advocates who’ve been incarcerated, arrested, on probation or parole, or family members of those who have. Learn more about the SLC here

About the Author

Maggie Luna, JI-RPS

Maggie Luna

Maggie Luna was a Policy Analyst and the Community Outreach Coordinator at the Texas Center for Justice and Equity until 2023, having joined the organization in early 2020 as a Hogg Foundation Peer Policy Fellow. In her role, Maggie focused on creating advocacy opportunities for system-impacted Texans. Maggie is a graduate of the Smart Justice Speakers Bureau at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and also holds a Re-Entry Peer Specialist Certification.