Word & Image 

Jeremy, 40: Inmate, Richmond City Jail, Leader for the Men in Recovery Program.

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Scott Elmquist

"This room is painted with pain and sadness, but it's also painted with hope and joy and motivation. It is one of the most spiritual places I've ever been. When I'm in here I don't even realize I'm locked up.

"I do paperwork. I help tutor other students. I do work on the computer. But my ultimate role down here is to show the other guys, especially the newer guys, that if you apply yourself, some good things can happen. To go against the grain.

"I been locked up here since Nov. 1, 2013. I've finally found freedom. For me to find freedom inside a cage seems irrational to people, but I pray to a God who makes all things possible.

"I'm a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Adversity, I'll be honest with you, adversity made me who I am. We got the alert on the news, but I've never been a runner. Katrina hit. Woke up the next day to 2 feet of water. We just went up onto the roof with what we could salvage from the fridge. Then we just waited, hoping that a helicopter would come get us.

"We waited for six and a half days. The sky was filled with helicopters like bats, and we'd see people getting restless and impatient and jump in the water, and they go under and don't come back up. You just sitting there and see a dead body go floating by, or an alligator or a water moccasin trying to get onto the roof.

"I just came to Richmond last June. I was in a relationship and she was pregnant. Some bad things happened, and I gave up. Turned back to alcohol, and I made a bad decision one night.

"Some people say your soul dies in here. For me, it's been a great experience. I know that may sound crazy, but this is the road I've traveled, and I'm OK with it. Some of the greatest people, most prominent people on earth today have been locked up. Even in the Bible, Paul wrote the greatest books of the New Testament from inside a prison wall.

"I get out [this] week. I sit and I think about it and I get so excited. I have to sit still. I think about the temptations. I play the whole tape through. I play the whole tape. I had 10 and a half months clean and last June it started with one beer. That's all it takes for me to fall apart, but I will take it a day at a time, stay grounded. I want to come back here because what Sheriff [C.T.] Woody does, and I'm so grateful, is he allows men who are doing good to come back to the Men in Recovery program and show them: "Hey man, it works."

"How can a person tell someone to come out of a hole if they've never been in a hole themselves?"

Style Weekly agreed to withhold the subject's last name.

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