Pelipost is more than just an app for sending photos to your incarcerated loved ones. Pelipost has a story, much like your own. We are so excited to share our story with you in our new PeliPeople series! This is part one of Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration. (Read about Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration here)
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“I didn’t know what the hell to do. It wasn’t just my mom who’d be doing time, but me as well. We were officially in the system together. ”
Growing up in San Diego in the 1980’s the Calderon family lived the picturesque American Dream. Happy marriage, good careers, new cars, and a beautiful home. In January of 1989, they joyfully welcomed their first child, Joseph into their lives. Sadly, the joys of parenthood became shattered a month after Joseph was born, Becky received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Doctors told her she would be lucky to live to see me turn 5.
Childhood Before Incarceration
As my mom fought her way through surgeries, chemo, and intense radiation, she decided to devote what time she had remaining to provide me with the best childhood she could offer. It was full of fun, birthday parties, family vacations, playing sports, and lots of love.
Sadly, as the years passed, life’s struggles took a toll on my family. This included financial hardships, losing our home during the Great Recession, and the collapse of my parents’ 21-year marriage. On top of that, my mom’s legal troubles lead her to a battle with alcoholism as she tried to drink her circumstances away.
Mom Sentenced to Prison
In October 2010, our family endured the ultimate hardship. My mom (Becky) arrived to a San Diego courthouse for what she believed would be a sentencing of house arrest only to find out she wouldn’t be returning home. Her lawyer promised she would receive a lenient sentencing because she had never been in trouble before and she committed a “white-collared crime”. To our shock and surprise, the Judge sentenced her to 3 years in prison and ordered her immediately incarcerated. On the outside, I was in complete disbelief that my mom was really going to prison.
I was away at college and had little knowledge of the legal system. I wasn’t expecting my mom to end up in prison, especially before I could say goodbye, give her a big hug, and tell her it was going to be okay.
Families End Up In The Prison System Together
My world instantly changed and I felt an ENORMOUS amount of pressure and stress. I didn’t know what the hell to do. It wasn’t just my mom who’d be doing time, but me as well. We were officially in the system together. I literally woke up one day with everything being “normal”and going to bed with my world completely in chaos.
Shortly after going into custody, they relocated my mom to California’s Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla CA (8 hours away). Her cancer had returned while incarcerated and she required a facility with a full medical ward to continue her treatment. This was the beginning of one of the hardest challenges my mom and I would ever endure…
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