From Lawyer-to Prisoner-to-Reverend: A Tale of Redemption
Date:  01-08-2015

How one man survived prison and became a source of inspiration to others
Too often we hear about people who get out of prison and fail at successful reintegration. There are many barriers that returning citizens face. That is why Reentry Central likes to present stories about people who succeed after being incarcerated. We hope these stories give others courage to overcome the obstacles they encounter when they try to turn their lives around.

The following article originally appeared in Weston Magazine Group on May 20, 2014. The article contains excerpts from Last Stop Babylon: The Art of Surviving Prison by Reverend Jeff Grant. Rev. Grant writes for PRISONIST.ORG which is the blogsite of the Progressive Prison Project and the Innocent Spouse & Children Project.

I thought I was lucky–one of the chosen. It was 1992; I was a young, successful corporate/real estate lawyer living in Rye, New York. My law firm was located in Mamaroneck–about a mile from our home–and so was a restaurant I owned. I would soon be elected to the local school board. I drove a big BMW, my family vacationed four or five times a year. I thought I was bulletproof.

One day, while I was playing basketball with my biggest client, I ruptured my Achilles tendon. In the course of rehabilitating from the injury, I became addicted to prescription narcotics. I never meant for it to happen–but it did. For over ten years I took painkillers almost every single day. Day after day, little by little, they cut away at my soul and ate away at my judgment. If I’d had the ability to pull back and look at my life from a distance, I would have seen the compromises I was making–the physical changes, the mood and behavior issues and all the money problems. I was miserable even if I didn’t necessarily appear that way–my weight had ballooned up to 285 pounds. I was vomiting blood from anxiety. I was spending much more money than I was making. As I took more and more pills, I showed up for fewer and fewer client meetings.

One day, my office manager came to me and told me we weren’t going to make payroll that week. I didn’t understand how that could have been possible. I had been in business as a lawyer almost twenty years–and despite all the problems and all the madness, the firm had grown to become one of the most successful law practices in Westchester County. We were bringing in millions of dollars a year–but we were out of cash. I could have called a friend and asked for help–or called my bank–but the drugs wouldn’t let me focus. And that’s when I made my deal with the devil.

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