She lobbied for greater inmate access to Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and taught relapse prevention in the prison's substance abuse program. She asked to be released into a recovery house in order to save money and look for work, then found a job as a residential counselor there.
"I wanted to live and breathe and work recovery," says Weigand.
Weigand moved up to clinical coordinator, supervising eight other clinicians, and earned a degree in criminal justice at San Francisco State University, where she received a number of awards, including one for the graduate with the highest academic and civic achievement. Weigand went on to found a criminal and social justice consulting agency called FocuzUp, which addresses the reentry needs of long-serving prisoners as well as those who have been exonerated by DNA evidence.
"I never thought I would be working for the wrongfully convicted," Weigand says.
Her current projects include building a reentry facility in Moline, near her hometown of Rock Island, Illinois, and lobbying for exonerated prisoner restitution legislation that she coauthored. And when a broken person wants to tuck up under Weigand and find out how she lives and breathes and acts, she opens her arms—just as Cydney Reyes did for her.
What if you're not lucky enough to come upon a Perin, Walker, or Reyes? Then seek one out. "Look for people who intrigue you and make you say, 'I'd like to be like her, how does that work for her?'" says Deutschman. "Then form that relationship and learn from it. So often we think that change is impossible, that people don't change, that we can't change. But you can't argue with a living, breathing person in front of you who has done it, and modeling yourself on them is the best way to do the same."
And if the person who inspires you isn't a good teacher or doesn't have the time to form the relationship that will help you change, keep hunting. Act as if your life depends on it.
We Hear You!