JANESVILLE — Jeremey Duncan is ill, but the writing heals.
Thirty years of addiction, mostly on heroin and cocaine, led Beloit, 43, to Rock County Jail.
“They told me once in treatment that I was addicted to ‘more’,” he said. “No matter what it is, I just wanted a little more. “
Writing, he says, allows him to create something new. It’s productive.
Amy Evans, a prison treatment and rehabilitation social worker, knows that writing is a “positive activity”. This can be therapeutic, especially since the prison does not have a real recreation area.
So she and her colleague, Verenice Sandoval, led an effort to offer a creative writing competition to the entire prison population.
Duncan, using a poem called “The Door” that he wrote from another jail cell about 20 years ago, won the first competition with his May submission. Duncan’s article tells of how his addiction brought him to the brink of death, but God gave him a way out.
He hailed the creative writing competition as a way to involve inmates in “things they would never have been involved in without these two people presenting them with that opportunity.”
“It’s (the) speech throughout the prison,” he said of the writing contest. “Writing heals people. People who are broken have to start somewhere. You have to start recreating your life. It’s easier to do with a pencil.
The prize for the best poem was pizza and sheriff’s wings.
Sheriff Troy Knudson said he would have been impressed if the first competition received five entries. Instead, Evans said they have 15.
“Among the submissions there was some really amazing writing that would really open the eyes of most people to the untapped potential of some inmates,” Knudson wrote in an email.
Evans got the idea from a client she was carrying last summer. They first tested it in RECAP, which stands for Rock County Education and Criminal Addictions Program, before expanding it to the rest of the prison.
Duncan says he feels low every night in his cell. His despair is not only for him but especially for his 20 year old son, who is addicted to heroin.
“I’m lying in my cell at night and listening to the police go by, thinking they’re going to slow down outside my door and tell me he’s dead,” said Duncan, who has been trying to recover from drug addiction since then. was 18 years old.
June 1, 2017 – a date Duncan remembers as easily as he does for “The Door” – occurred during his first overdose. In the past five years, he has said he knows more than 20 people who have died of heroin overdoses, including “one last week”.
Everything is “far too close to home”.
“All I felt, all I understood was black – the deepest, darkest black. So black, so heavy it was pressed against my skin, ”he said of the overdose. “And I imagine my son has this for the rest of his eternity, and it’s scary.”
He said it was difficult to describe his worry. He feels guilty, he says, for not being a better father. Duncan still talks with his son. The last time he heard his voice, Duncan said he was relieved to hear his son sound like himself. He said it’s something he can hear in an addict’s voice.
“I have high hopes today,” Duncan said. “But 30 years of dealing with it, I know having hope today doesn’t mean anything tonight.”
“He’s smarter than me, so he’ll be fine.”