A prisoners 2nd chance at life: An exclusive interview inside the Monmouth County Correctional Institution
Life is about earning a second chance when you've done wrong, but is there a limit to how many second chances you get? In the Final Part of our Series on Jail Life, a repeat drug offender at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution insists this time is for real.
39-year old Joe Arroyo has been in and out of jail or prison since the late 1990's due to his ongoing battle with cocaine addiction.
He's been given second chances to exorcise his demons, but has failed.
When you've burned through countless second chances to make things right, it's hard to convince even your loved ones you're capable of change for the better.
Arroyo said being in those shoes has been a struggle as he's battled a cocaine addiction similar to a fight he has seen others endure.
"I think all addicts deal with that in our own little way, we always want to prove someone wrong and then sometimes we end up back in here (prison) again," Arroyo said.
His next second chance at life is his upcoming release from the MCCI where he plans to make amends, plan a wedding with his fiance and be a better role model for his son.
"I'm trying to be a better parent for him, be a better person for me and my family and...I want something better in life, it gets tiring going in and out of here...I just want better," Arroyo said.
He also plans to pursue college upon his release with the G.E.D he recently earned.
"When I get focused on something, I try and stay the course," Arroyo said. "I want to try college courses and see what that has to offer."
In an effort to avoid falling off the wagon again, he plans to continue counseling, attending N.A. meetings and keeping in contact with his sponsor.
He's also hoping that others will see or hear his story as a lesson of what not to do and that you shouldn't want to spend your life or part of it in a prison cell.
"Nobody wants this life, if you do, you got to be crazy," Arroyo said.
His advice for his teenage self or the teenagers of today would be the same, he said...stay in school.
"Once I dropped out of high school is when all the trouble began," Arroyo said. "When I was in school, I played sports, my academics were pretty good...but once I dropped out of school it all went downhill."
His final piece of advice for anyone out there struggling with addiction or something else...find someone you trust and talk to them about what's bothering you.
"Just be truthful with them and let everything that's going on inside of you out," Arroyo said. "If you're angry that day, you have to talk to someone about it. If you hold everything inside and it's bottled up, that's going to lead you back out there on the streets again following your addiction. You have to let someone know what you're feeling."