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I’ll Never Be A Schoolteacher Again: Drugs Change Shannon Evans’ Outlook

Women's Voices dayton correctional institution
Juliet Fromholt

Shannon Evans came to prison earlier this year after a three-year spiral into drug addiction. As she puts it, she used to be a “goody-two-shoes” and never imagined she’d end up strung out on heroin. But her story isn’t uncommon: the problem with prescription drugs and heroin has spiked in Ohio in the last few years, and the proportion of women killed by drug overdoses has also gone way up. Now, Shannon reflects on the fact that she’ll never be able to go back to life before drugs.

Shannon told her story to fellow incarcerated woman Alisha Federici, who had a similar story to Shannon’s. She had been a gymnast, and following an injury, got on prescription painkillers. That addiction spiraled into a more serious one. Alisha was released from prison in March, and died just three weeks later of a drug overdose in her hometown of Waverly. This story and tomorrow’s piece about Alisha Federici are airing in her memory and in honor of her family.

Highlights from the audio:

“When I thought of a drug addict I thought of some old guy strung out on the side of a building in the city, or something. It didn’t dawn on me that that hit people where I lived. It didn’t hit school teachers or Sunday school teachers or PTA moms.”

“I found myself being very depressed because you have no control over your addiction when you’re in the midst of it.”

“I’ve reconciled the fact that I’ll never be a schoolteacher again, which, I actually had to mourn that loss. The beginning of September, the end of August this year I found myself in my cell on my bed crying, thinking, I’ll never hear, “Ms. Evans, can you tie my shoe, Ms. Evans you took my lunch box,” or smell sharpened pencils first thing in the morning.”

Women’s Voices from Dayton Correctional Institution is a series of stories based on WYSO’s Community Voices class at the prison on the west side. WYSO selected 10 incarcerated women through a competitive application process, and taught them interviewing, storytelling and recording skills. The series is produced and mixed by managing editor Lewis Wallace and Community Voices producer Renee Wilde, with volunteer support from Community Voices graduate Dr. Venita Kelley and editorial input from general manager Neenah Ellis. Our incarcerated students were Shannon Evans, Alisha Federici, LaShae Landry, Diana Linz, Tyra Patterson, Or'Zaria Slaton, Nikkia Sullivan, Lana Williams, Melody Williams and Aimee Wissman.