Author reaches out by telling her story of jail, struggle

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — At 34, Heather Heaton is about to graduate from Jefferson State Community College and move on to Southeastern Bible College for a degree in ministry.

Today, Heaton is a published author working to minister to women making the difficult transition from prison to society.

Four short years ago, Heaton’s future looked bleak. She was in jail and dealing with prescription drug abuse.

Heather Heaton

“The judges gave me chance after chance after chance to get right,” Heaton said.

Finally, after an escape plan was foiled, Heaton was stuck in jail in Wetumpka and Montgomery for about two years. She said she worked to educate herself and free herself from substance abuse.

After leaving jail, Heaton discovered that getting a job wouldn’t be easy because of her prison record. She said she worked odd jobs, often making just enough to get by, especially since she was ineligible for food stamps because of her prison time.

“Until you change people’s minds, they’re not going to touch you,” Heaton said.

Finally, Heaton met someone who was willing to take a chance and look past her prison record.

Heaton began working part-time, but wanted to continue her work for women following in her footsteps.

She wrote a book, “Her Letters from Prison,” to shine a light on the mistreatment of women in prison.

“There’s a need for some people to be in prison,” she said. “But there are some people (in there) that don’t care anything about you.”

Heaton’s book shares her story and tells of abuse in the prison system and of the retaliation suffered for reporting abuse. Heaton first published the book as an e-book in August 2011.

She said she will continue to raise awareness of conditions in women’s prisons. Heaton said after she graduates from Southeastern Bible College, she hopes to open a reentry ministry for women who have been in prison.

To purchase a digital copy of Heaton’s book, visit Herlettersfromprison.com.