Theresa Dempster

Find Theresa Dempster’s display at the Allegheny County Jail, Visitor Entrance, 950 Second Avenue.

“Before I came here, I homeschooled my kids for seven years without a high school diploma. They’re honor roll students. When everybody found out, they asked ‘How did you teach your kids?'”

When I had my two kids that took me from smoking crack and drinking. Then, after they got older, I got around the wrong crowd. I went back to drinking real heavy because I started getting depressed. Started stealing people’s checks just to keep up with my addiction. Knowing that the judge is telling me that I’ll have to do six months this time got me to the point I wish I never did the little things I did.

Losing my dad when I was 18, sometimes I have flashbacks to that, so that’s another reason why I leaned on alcohol so much. It’s a crutch. It’s not even healthy for me. There’s times that I’ve passed out and went to sleep. Instead of going to the school with my kids, that appointment, parent-teacher conferences, and things like that, I’m too buzzed up to even get up in the morning.

Since I’ve been in here, I got into the Hope Program and it opened me up. When I first got here I was like, “I can’t wait to get me another drink.” Now I don’t want it. So, I’m praying to God that God keep me under his wing and shield, that I can continue to do that when I get out. They was like, “is there anybody positive that I can talk to?” I said, “My Mom.” I have my mom’s church, and meetings in the neighborhood. I’m thinking about going there and continuing the Hope Program.

I was in denial for so long. My mom came and visited me and was like, “Your skin cleared up so much.” There was a guy I was dating that had me on crack. It’s when I’m around him, so I think, besides me getting into the trouble, I think God also put me here. He seen me getting ready to go back down that same pattern again, and that was his way of, “Hey, slow your roll! Pump your brakes, you’re about to make the wrong decision all over again.”

I was going so good. I was hooked when I was probably 23, so I was clean for a long time, up until a month before I got here. I was about to make the same mistake. I found myself in here talking with women younger than me and they’re telling me about dope. They’re so young. Don’t make that same mistake. The things they’re doing? It’s not cute.

Before I came in here, I homeschooled my kids for seven years without a high school diploma. I have honor roll students. My 17-year-old just graduated. My 15-year-old’s grades are awesome. When everybody found out I never graduated, they asked “How did you teach your kids?”

Staying here also gave me opportunity. Instead of moping, whining, and trying to blend in, I thought I’d do something. So I started the GED program in here. At least when I get out, I can say this time I achieved something.


Always Made New


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