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Lisa Lafland has fought all her life, first with her mother, then for sobriety, then for custody of her son. A four-time felon, she credits Good News Jail & Prison Ministry with her new life, beginning just after her arrest for possession of heroin and crack cocaine in June 2007.
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"Three days later, I met John Corcoran, chaplain at the Chesterfield County Jail," the Prince George County native explains. "I had lost everything."
Lafland started smoking marijuana at 15, when her father left home. A former standout in soccer and choir at Prince George High School, she was smoking crack by 18. Desperate to be off drugs, she quit cold turkey.
Then, at 19, Lafland became pregnant. After the delivery, her doctor prescribed pain medication. "It was off to the races again," she recalls. "I poked needles into my fingers, put blood in my urine pretending to have kidney stones — anything to get prescriptions."
Lafland went to jail for possession with intent to distribute when her son, Logan, was 2. "I spent six months at Riverside Regional Jail, where an inmate said, ‘When you get out, if you like pills, whatever you do, never try heroin.' "
Nevertheless, she tried it and got hooked. One morning, Lafland passed out after mixing heroin and Xanax, a prescription drug used to manage anxiety disorders. Unable to wake his mother, 5-year-old Logan used her cell phone to call his day care.
"They called my stepfather. He came to get Logan. I woke up three hours later."
Realizing she couldn't care for her son, Lafland gave him to her mother.
During a drug run to a Richmond project, Lafland was arrested on outstanding drug warrants. She spent 30 days in Chesterfield County Jail. In July 2007, in lieu of further jail time, Lafland pleaded into the Chesterfield County Drug Court Program, which included submitting to multiple drug screens, a visit with a judge each week and participation in group therapy for more than two years. Rita Meunier, a Good News volunteer who led Lafland's Bible classes in jail, has mentored her since her release. Lafland now serves as a mentor to another woman through a discipleship program at her church, and she's pursuing a psychology degree online through Iowa's Ashford University. Lafland hopes to counsel inmates on how trials can be blessings.
"On June 26, 2008, I was riding my scooter to work when a lady hit me. I remember screaming to the ambulance driver, ‘I just celebrated a year clean, please don't give me anything for pain — please!' "
Lafland had a shattered tibia and fibula, but she now calls this one of the best days of her life, because it forced her to move in with her father to recuperate, and she began the process of reclaiming her son, then 8. Granted full custody in February 2009, Lafland now also has a job, a valid driver's license and a car. She credits Good News.
"The compassion of Christ just pours from them," she says, a tear slipping down her cheek. "You can't ever repay a program like that. John Corcoran putting his hand through that little slot where they feed you in jail changed my life."
© Nancy Wright Beasley. All rights reserved 2010.