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Photo by  Branimir Balogović  on  Unsplash
Photo by Branimir Balogović on Unsplash

So many people’s lives have changed because of COVID-19, some more than others. Many lives have been taken by the virus, and my heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones. 

In the free world, people are standing in solidarity more than before and helping each other get over the loss of loved ones, businesses and friends. I have also seen offenders pull together more than ever before.

In some ways COVID-19 has been a blessing to some people inside prisons. Some offenders have returned home to their families even though they thought they would never see them or the outside world again. Being incarcerated and hearing about new laws being passed in favor of offenders’ rights gives us hope. Even if we have a few years left in our sentences or are sentenced to life, it gives us something to look forward to. I know that some people feel like incarcerated people do not deserve a second chance, but they should know that, especially in this pandemic, offenders are still vulnerable human beings and that we,too, have lost loved ones.

In January of 2021 I tested positive for COVID-19. It was the scariest news that I have received in a while. On the news we hear mostly about the death rates but less often about the people who have survived. I wondered if I would become another number to add to the world total, so I immediately called my family. All I could think about was hearing their voices one more time. At  some point I realized that everyone’s situation is different and not everyone had to die from COVID-19. Thankfully, I stand stronger than ever. I live to tell my story and now know that we can make it through this. 

Regardless of how it changed our lives, whether we are incarcerated or not, we were all reminded to be grateful no matter what and not to take life for granted. It reminded us to focus on how the blessing of positive thinking can get us through challenging and frightening times. 

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Keshia Freeman is a writer incarcerated in Virginia.