Unshackled - A Road to Freedom
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At only eight years old Janie Burkett Harrison was introduced to a lifelong enemy named insecurity that would drag her down many a dark path and constantly stand between her and true happiness. Janie's battles with insecurity started with her weight and fear of abandonment, but escalated into so much more. By fifteen she found herself slipping into a lifestyle that promised only despair, turning her back on God and relying on alcohol and men to fill a growing void. Her life went from bad to worse and Janie soon found herself a full-blown addict with a life-threatening eating disorder by age twenty. Taking the wrong turn at every turn, Janie ended up in front of a judge facing something she never imagined. At twenty-four years old, Janie Burkett was given a forty year prison sentence. The day she heard the judge say "Texas Department of Corrections Women's Prison for the next forty years" was the day Janie realized that she had hit the pits of Hell. The question was, after running away from her faith and family for so long, could anything save her now?
LUFKIN, TX NEWS AFFILIATE KTRE ABC 9
By Michelle Reed
An East Texas woman's miraculous story of survival after she was sentenced to forty years in prison for alcohol and drug addiction has hit bookstores all over the country. A daughter of an Evangelical pastor, Janie Burkett Harrison, lived a life in God's footsteps until she was raped at the age of sixteen.
"It was really hard for me because I felt so dirty and why did that happen? God you, what is going on here? What's, why aren't you protecting me?" Janie said. Disgusted with herself, Janie, who weighed 200 pounds at the time, wanted to wash away her pain. "I made myself throw up all the time and I realized I was losing weight and I thought that's it," Burkett said.
After finding comfort inside the dark world of sex and drugs, Janie Burkett Harrison was arrested at the age of 21.
"I was afraid. I had never been arrested before. I had been running dope and been involved with the drug cartel and 'Ms. Bad' or whatever, but the first time you get popped away and you get put in jail, you're like 'woah, this is really. This is real,'" Janie said. By the time she was arrested the third time, she had a million-and-a-half dollar bond with 17 charges against her.
After 11 months on parole, Janie found herself in front of the judge again and was sentenced to 40 years in prison for breaking her probation.
"I had lost myself in the midst of it and become this person I did not want to be. I had become a criminal. A criminal! A hard born criminal and that's not me," Janie said. But Janie says God was on her side. She was released to a 13-month recovery program called Teen Challenge after serving only six weeks in prison.
Now at 28 years old, Janie has finally faced her demons through her memoir Unshackled, A Road to Freedom.
"These young kids who are running dope don't realize that it will lead you down a life you don't want to go down. I mean you don't want to spend the rest of your life in prison."