I grew up with Kylie Jenkins. She and sister used to come over to my house and we’d play together. I hung out with her once in a while in high school, but not too often. We have recently reconnected and she wanted to share her story of overcoming many obstacles in her life.
On October 11, 1997,Jenkins, of St. Marys, watched her 36-year-old mother lose her life to breast cancer. She woke up to her stepfather tapping on her shoulder telling her that her mother is gone. “I looked over at her to make sure it was real, and she laid there so peaceful with one tear falling from her left eye. At that moment, I lost it. I had never experienced anything so painful in my life of 18 years. I didn’t care about anything. I was in a zone where I felt like everything was a dream. All I wanted to do was go to her grave and lay there and when I wasn’t there, I had to be at home where she died because I felt closer to her there,” said Jenkins.
At some point, her sister got Jenkins to leave and she never went back. She moved to Lima and began what would be some of the worst mistakes in her life. “I felt so vulnerable and so alone. I began drinking so much that I remember a time when I started crying because no one would give me money to buy beer. Everyone was talking about me and couldn’t believe I was so upset that I couldn’t have a beer. It was so crazy because I had never had an addiction to anything in my life,” Jenkins said.
Soon after, she met someone who made her feel happy and wanted. “I actually felt okay for the first time since she died. A few months into the relationship, he began hitting me. I remember the first time it happened. I was so afraid. I never thought I would be in that situation. I thought it would never happen again, but I was so wrong. It got worse actually, and before I knew it, I was in so deep and I didn’t know how to get out.”
This was the man Jenkins learned everything from - and by everything - everything she’d never imagined she’d ever see. She began drinking heavily and smoking weed. Soon she began selling crack because he did, and she felt like this is what she needed to do to be closer to him and the people she began to consider my close friends and family. “I knew everything about crack. I knew how to cook it, cut it up, and weigh it. I’d spend all night selling with addicts running in and out at all hours of the night with not a care in the world. I wasn’t worried about getting caught even though everyone told us to slow down. All I knew was, I was making money,” said Jenkins.
Eventually he went to prison and Jenkins was left all alone. At that point she figured she should stop. Jenkins tried working but the money just didn’t come as fast as it did when she was selling drugs. So she began selling on her own again. “This time, I took it to a smaller town, my hometown. I was making more money than I ever thought. It was coming in so fast and going out even faster. I was making trips to Columbus 2-3 times a day because I was running out.” During this time, Jenkins met a couple boys from Columbus who she brought back with her. They had their own dope and started selling it out of her spot so she got mad. They weren’t giving her any of the money either, so she had to stop it. “I had a friend in Lima that was/is very much not afraid to hurt somebody or rob someone, so I set them up. I let him rob them and we split the money. I didn’t even care that I left them all alone in a city they knew nothing about, with no car and no phone. All I cared about was my money.”
Sooner or later though, Jenkins’ luck ran out. She was drinking down the street from her grandparents with a friend from Detroit and her sister called to tell her that the police were there towing her car and looking to serve her with five secret indictments for trafficking. “I knew my time was up, so I had my sister pack a bag and pick me and my friend up. He was going to take me to Detroit to hide out until I was ready to face my charges. As we were heading out of town, though, the police surrounded the car and took me in. I was questioned all night. They wanted to know who I was getting my drugs from. Of course I wasn’t interested in telling on anyone so I sat there all night. Eventually I was charged with five counts of trafficking in crack-cocaine. I was sentenced to 4-6 months in the WORTH Center, a rehabilitation center for non-violent offenders.”
Jenkins wasn’t too thrilled of the thought of being locked up, but it was better than prison. So she did her time and told them what they wanted to hear. At that time, she didn’t feel as if she had a problem. She definitely didn’t have a drug problem/addiction and that’s what most of the women were in there for, so it really bothered her. She often wondered why she was in there if she wasn’t addicted to drugs so the case managers called her addiction money.
Eventually Jenkins was released. She didn’t even do the full four months because she successfully completed the program early. She was so happy to be getting out. All she could think about was her boyfriend, the one who she was told to stay away from. “I tried to focus, but something kept drawing me back to him,” Jenkins said. “I went back to my grandparents’ home to serve my probation. I found a job, but eventually took off and ran. I couldn’t stand the 9:00 curfew and not being allowed to leave town. I wasn’t ready to be under such tight constraints. The one person I was strictly forbidden to see was the one and only person I couldn’t bear to be away from.”
“I ran for two years, using friends’ names if I came in contact with the police, and not being able to stay at a job too long for fear they would find me by my social security number. Of course I began selling drugs again because this was the only way I could survive. I started drinking a lot more as well as using other drugs while partying with new people I met,” Jenkins said.
“I’m so thankful I never really picked up a strong addiction to anything or I might be worse off. In this time, I was involved in two drug raids, but was never taken in. I still to this day cannot understand why I wasn’t caught. Maybe there was some hidden reason? Perhaps some things I still needed to experience (good or bad). I don’t know, but I was never caught.”
Eventually, Jenkins was caught. She wasn’t expecting it at all. She went into work one morning to set up before she opened. She was the only one out in the front when the door opened. She looked up, thinking, ‘What are these people doing? We’re not even open.’ It was her probation officer though, along with a few officers from the sheriff’s department. She asked how Jenkins had been and Jenkins asked her how long she was going in for. “I let one tear fall. It was a relief because now I knew I could get my life together like I’d always wanted to, but also I was sad because I did not want to go to prison for 2 ½ years.”
Jenkins did go to prison though, and it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t too scary though, either, like she’d imagined it to be. Nothing at all like the movies made it out to be. “It was actually more annoying than anything being surrounded by almost 2,000 women that had problems! I slept right beside women that were serving life sentences for murder. I remember entering into the gates like it was yesterday. It was raining that morning which made it even more depressing.”
“It looked like a little village or something with cottages and old buildings lining the sidewalks and people running around in a hurry, but in a hurry for what? We were in prison now, what could they possibly have to hurry for?” She soon found out though…. She basically used her time to her advantage. She worked, prayed, jogged, read, and listened to others’ stories. She wanted to make sure she was ready to be successful once she was released. After listening to some of those stories of those that had been in for the second, third, or even fourth time, she wanted to make sure she never made the same mistakes again.
“After serving about five months, I was given the chance to prove myself to the judge by appearing before him to ask for an early release. The judge, however, did not think that I was too convincing and sent me back to jail.” Jenkins sat for another three weeks or so and then one day the officer walked into her cell and told her to pack my things up, “You’re going home.”
“I was so happy and thankful that I was given a second chance to make something of myself. After all, I had wanted this all along. So again, I was placed on very strict probation/parole and this time I took it very serious. I knew there was no way I could ever put this all behind me if I didn’t complete the probation. I found a job immediately and got my own place with the help of my aunt and uncle.”
Eventually Jenkins met her husband now of 10 years and went to college and had two wonderful children. She is so grateful for the chance to basically start over and be the woman that she had always intended on becoming. She now has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and an AA in Marketing. “I have since then gotten my record expunged/sealed and am now working for a very successful company and raising our children alongside my husband. Things haven’t always been easy, but we’ve made the best of it and continue to strive to be the best parents we can be. Not too many people can say they were given a second chance after committing crimes and society often looks down on those who have. For that, I am truly thankful. I know my mother would be proud of me now.”