Moms Behind Bars: A woman’s story of addiction and the help she received in prison

How jail saved a mother's life

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - WBTV was granted unprecedented access to The Mecklenburg County Detention Center North, where women are housed. We wanted to meet moms behind bars ahead of Mother’s Day.

We found a common thread among the moms we met - drug addiction.

In order to tell their stories, WBTV’s Maureen O’Boyle and I had to live as they do. We turned over our personal belongings, our cell phones, every connection to the outside world, except our cameras.

We found some who have been in and out of jail unable to stay clean. But we also found hope in the story of Tara McBride.

“It’s crazy to say that jail saved my life, but it truly saved my life,” Tara said.

The 32-year-old mom has been serving time for the last ten months. Ten months of being away from her 11 and 12-year-old sons.

“I can’t wait to feel their skin, to small them to look at them,” she told me.

She says sitting in a jail cell didn’t change her, but the programs offered to her inside those four walls did. When she walks out of these doors in 6 days - she begins a new chapter of her life.

And her boys already know she’s not the same person that was sent here last year.

“They say I can tell in your voice mom that you’re different and that’s the best feeling in the world,” Tara said, smiling.

Before her convictions, she was a newly single mom who fell into a prescription drug addiction.

Moms Behind Bars: Tara McBride

“I went to the doctor for ADHD and bad nerves. They put me on Xanax and Adderall and I just started abusing it,” she remembers.

That was 5 years ago. Since then, she’s been convicted of DWIs, drug possession and larceny. Her plan was to get in and out of jail as quickly as possible.

“You get days knocked off if you’re in programs. So that’s what I was originally doing,” she said.

She never expected that those programs would change her life.

“I’ve never had an inner joy. And I know it sounds crazy, but I found it in jail,” Tara told me.

Since McBride’s been behind bars, she got her GED and is certified in parenting, life skills, construction and 22 other courses offered in the Detention Center’s programs pod. The most meaningful, she says, is a course called B-Print. That’s where she wrote out the blueprint of her life.

“I pitied myself for things that happened to me when I grew up. Like this happened to me so oh why not do this. And like she said it’s not my fault that it happened, but it’s my responsibility to change and not let it happen to my children,” she explained. She admits she knows she hasn’t broken the cycle yet.

Just days away from her freedom she says a new life is waiting for her. A life with her boys and a better future.

“Most of the time criminals feel like their life is over, well I really feel like my life is just beginning,” she said with a smile.

Tara already has a job lined up for when she gets out. She tells me she plans to enroll in cosmetology school while working.

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