CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - This Mother’s Day weekend there will be thousands of mothers across the Carolinas who won’t be with their kids because those moms are behind bars. Some are held on charges awaiting trial because they can’t afford to bond out while others, like Lyndsey Barr, are serving time.
I met the Shelby mother at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center North, where women are incarcerated.
“I'm 34 now and I've been in and out of jail for a long time. But my baby is what makes me want something different. I want to do better,” Lyndsey told me through tears.
Lyndsey’s toddler son, Lucas, lives with Lyndsey’s father, Bobby Barr. His name might sound familiar if you know racing. He’s been in the racing world for decades. That is how Lyndsey started her life on the fast track as a Jr. Dragster.
“I started Junior Dragster when I was 8-years-old. I and was good at it,” Lyndsey told me.
Her father agreed.
“First time she went down there, first race she went to she won. From then on, she just kept getting better and better,” Barr said.
Local papers chronicled her speed and record-breaking wins. When this national magazine headline was published, “Life Behind Barrs”, they thought it was clever. Her legendary last name, and success under the bars of her drag car. No one could have known the play on words would one day play out in real life.
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At 14, Lyndsey was diagnosed with scoliosis.
“After the back surgery, you know, it was hard for her to get in the car. She complained that it hurt her back. We have to make special cushions for the car,” her father remembers.
At 20 years old, Lyndsey had her third massive spinal surgery. That is when both she and her father believe her life spun out of control.
Because of her pain, doctors prescribed oxycontin. Lyndsey says it didn’t take long for her to go from using the drugs for pain management to abusing them.
“She was on pain pills terrible. Just really bad pain pills. That’s just where her life went since then,” Bobby told me, fighting tears as he thought back to those days.
Two years later it was Lyndsey’s skill behind the wheel that would put her behind bars.
She did six years for robbery. She was the getaway driver. She told me the robbery was to get money to buy drugs.
After doing time, Lyndsey says she didn’t know how to handle the outside world.
“When I got out, I didn’t have any rehabilitation," said Barr. "I was kind of shell-shocked.”
So, the cycle of abuse continued. Lyndsey turned to drinking. She got two DWIs back to back. Then she became pregnant with Lucas. When Lyndsey gets out in just under two years, her father believe Lucas will be her motivation to stay clean.
“She’s got something sitting there that you get but once in a lifetime, the love of a child. When you’ve got that, you’ve got it,” Boddy said, his lips quivering fighting tears.
You could say Lucas is lucky. He’s one of only five percent of children with moms behind bars who live with family members. Bobby and other family members are raising Lucas until Lyndsey gets out.
“He doesn’t have a concept of time. That’s the only thing I got going for me right now,” Lyndsey said of her son as tears streamed down her face.
When I spoke to her a week after our interview, she already sounded clearer and more focused. She told me she is signed up for several drug programs in prison. She and her dad believe this time will be her last time.
At the time of writing this story, Lyndsey had been transferred to a state facility. Bobby Barr had not received word on where Lyndsey is incarcerated.