What It's Like To Have A Brother Behind Bars

“Can I have your ID?” the man at the desk asked me. “Here is a key. You can put all of your valuables in the lockbox over there,” as he pointed to the far wall near the building’s entrance.

“Mrs. Speer, have you been here before?” I replied, “Yes, I have.” “So you know the drill then?” he said, as he continued to log my information into his computer. “You can come this way,” as he pointed to the metal detector to his left.

“Walk through and stand up against the wall to your left.” A beep sounded as I walked through. He took a wand and ran it up and down my clothes. “I think it’s my belt”, I said. He replied, “Go on. Here is your badge. You must wear it at all times. Take the elevator to the second floor and meet the guard on your right as you enter onto the floor.”

Unfortunately, this process was a not a first for my family and I. It was the second time around, to be exact. I hated seeing him like this. You see, this place was all too familiar for my brother, J. 

Let me fill you in… My parents got a divorce when I was eight years old and my brother was only four. I can remember a specific time when my parents were both yelling and screaming downstairs. I had my brother huddled up in my arms in the corner of my bedroom, telling him that it was all going to be okay. We were there for a lot of the bad times. We heard and saw things that we shouldn’t have. 

I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when my mom threw a plate at his head, the look of the blood dripping down his face. It was a very difficult time in our lives. Although I was the older sibling and was able to recover from this tragic event, my brother was so young at the time and really took everything that happened to heart. If you ask me, it turned him into a completely different person.     

I would say that my brother has certainly had a rough childhood. He started misbehaving and acting up at such a young age. He had a temper like the Hulk and went from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. In his young teenage years, my parents had to send him away to a place for troubled teens to get the help he needed. Life wasn’t easy for J.

During his teenage years, J dropped out of high school. “It just isn’t for me,” he would say. But what was? He didn’t seem to have any hobbies or many friends for that matter. Although my brother and I are only four years apart, we are completely different. We were never super close, however we will always share a mutual love and respect for one another.  

Shortly after he dropped out of high school, J got into some trouble that landed him in jail for four months. Even though the family was devastated, we were hopeful that this time, he might change. J ended up getting his GED in jail, which we were all very proud of. But when he came out, he was the same old J we knew. He had no problem swearing at his family, breaking things around the house, and even getting physical with us.

There were numerous accounts of my dad having bruises, my mom getting hit, or myself getting punched in the nose. He just couldn’t control himself. It was almost as if something inside, was controlling him. If you met J on an average day, you may see a sweet side of him. But that is only half. He is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Split personality is what I would certainly call it.  

Living with a brother of this character has not been easy; in fact it has been very hard. My family has dealt with so many ups and downs. My father currently has a restraining order on him. Some of our family has even severed ties with J. It is sad. And he only has himself to blame. 

Now, I don’t want you to think my brother is all bad. He actually has a side of him that is kind and loving. J loves animals. He has a heart for cats especially. He also has a humorous side where him and I can be goofy and laugh together. Although we are always bickering back and forth, we have the typical brother-sister love/hate relationship. I just want to see my brother become the person I know he can be.

Today is the day that J is supposed to come out of solitary confinement. We got a call three weeks ago that J got in a fight with his roommate and that he was going to be put away for three weeks. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? Couldn’t he just be on good behavior for once? It’s been a long three weeks for our family and we have prayed and prayed. We have asked God to speak to J during this (lots of) alone time he has had. I know that if J could be saved, he would have a purpose for his life. He would find a new meaning and feel a love that he has never felt before. 

We continue to pray and hope that J’s heart will be changed. We hope that this time, he will come out a changed person. We know he is a good person, deep down. We hope he is done suffering and is ready to move on with his life. As a family, we pray for renewal and a change of heart. For now, we will just have to wait and see.