First time legislative experiences, from Lauren Johnson


Lauren Johnson has remained ardent in her pursuit to make real changes for those with prior convictions. Most recently, she’s been keeping tabs on a rumbling rumor that could change the way employers view new-hire candidates. Rooting for their cause and taking notes in their conferences, she’s hoping this group will succeed in making it easier to get a job after release. Think you want to get involved too – but not sure where to start? Neither did Lauren! Here, she shares her entrance into the wild world that is our Texas legislature: I’ve been waiting a year and a half for this year’s legislative session. I decided I wanted to be a part of the solution, but I really had no idea how the Texas legislature works – or any clue where to begin. But I asked questions and was pointed in the right direction. That’s how I got plugged in … Continue reading


Thank you!


Fundraising efforts helped us reach and exceed our goal! At press time, card swipes are still being tallied, cash counted and donations recorded – safe to say, the Banger’s Pub Quiz went off with a BANG! **Much appreciation to Banger’s cast and crew, who were amazingly friendly and accommodating from start to finish.** The evening began with volunteers, board members, friends and family of Conspire advocates happily crafting away on the picnic tables at the outdoor venue. A list of raffle prizes and Conspire’s mission statement were cut and pasted onto fun colored scrap booking paper, and gold duct taped to tables to save them from the fantastic breeze. The giant pecan trees protected the crowd from the late day sun. Conspire’s welcome table was set up – complete with a pink caboodle for a money box – we were ready to accept donations! Stephanie, with her cute-retro-cat-eyed specs, came out on behalf of Geeks Who Drink to act as … Continue reading



*Author’s name withheld M.L.K. On this very day I called out requesting if others wanted to pray Five of us shouted out our cell a prayer request – we each had one to tell Praying at the same time, I’ve found Found faith in others – what a beautiful sound We don’t have a clock but knew when to stop We used another round (by a correctional cop) This is an experience I’ll never forget. Our prayers are answered; to any non-believer, I’ll place a bet. Kinda laughed towards the end This day is Martin Luther King, a holiday, amen. He’s famous for shouting, ‘I had a dream’ This day to me will have another meanin’- The day we shouted out our cell Having faith for another, to pray in a place like Hell. So how about on Martin Luther King, we can say, We had a prayer on this … Continue reading

Spread the word!

Everything in moderation

Conspire is working hard to make our big May event happen! Super sweet prizes are pouring in from generous donors and teams are amping up their best fundraising cat calls – find them on Razoo!. Or check out our sweet FB page to saddle up with your favorite team, donate funds or just post a kind comment to boost morale! A little birdie should be tweeting more Pub Quiz updates as we get closer to this very important date: MAY 20TH * BANGER’S * 7-9PM Hope you enjoyed Lauren’s writing. We have more! As promised, we’ll be switching from prose to poetry, and begin posting submissions penned by incarcerated women from all over Texas. We couldn’t be more honored that women are allowing us to share their writing on Conspire’s blog. It proves that our mission is worth pursuing and our efforts are being felt! Thanks you for supporting a great non-profit. Help us keep going – keep our classes … Continue reading

Part III (the finale) – The Ring

Grandma's hands

A lost loved one’s possessions can symbolize an entire lifetime of memories and emotions. Here, in the final segment of Lauren Johnson’s remembrance of her grandmother, she fights to keep those emotions – and her Mimi’s memory – with her.   In 2003 my grandparents made a simple will and had it notarized.  I had seen one of its many copies at the time of Papaw’s death. When it was made, I was in prison. My uncle wasn’t, and my grandparents believed (at the time) that I had stolen from their home. That wasn’t the case, but since I had stolen from my uncle before, I understood.  The will mentioned only a few people specifically; I wasn’t among them. It made me a little sad. I felt forgotten, but didn’t want to bring it up because it wasn’t any of my business. There was only one thing I wanted anyway – but it was specifically … Continue reading

Part II: I thought I had done my crying

Lauren Johnson’s very personal story continues. Here she opens up about acting as her grandmother’s caregiver, and shares the emotional roller coaster ride that role carried her on. By the time I arrived they had gotten her pain under control and she was sleeping soundly for the first time in days. I placed my power of attorney on file at the hospital and the doctor came in to speak to us. Mimi didn’t hear the conversation. It was just her sister and me there. The news came in doses. They had done a CT scan when she arrived; it showed cancer in her liver, lungs and kidneys. They were going to send the pulmonologist in to talk to us about what would come next. He would assess her, decide which way would be least invasive to do a biopsy to find out what kind of cancer it was, and go … Continue reading

Part I: Mimi

Texas road

Lauren Johnson wrote about her experience caring for her grandmother while being a full-time mom, wife, employee and – admist it all – faced incarceration. Read on.   When I got the message from my 78 year old grandmother’s caregiver, I didn’t want to go. My grandmother, Mimi, had developed pneumonia. Although they’d caught it pretty early, she had also fallen in her kitchen and was in a lot of pain from the fall. Nothing was broken, but she was unable to be by herself. The caregiver had gone above and beyond the call of duty by staying with her for two days. But she had to get back to her other clients and her own life. We needed to get Mimi through the weekend. That meant driving an hour away, to a cell phone and computer Dead Zone. I’d made the trip many times, especially in the last three years, since my … Continue reading

In production

1970's circus girl

Much is happening behind the curtain at Conspire these days. We’ll be posting more details as they come up, until then, enjoy this teaser! Raising hell and raising funds Kat and Michelle managed to wrangle together a terrific group of volunteers to act as Conspire’s very own Fundraising Committee! The team is working hard coordinating this summer’s big event – a fundraising extravaganza! (Well, a super fun night where everybody wins.) Dust off your fancy pants and your thinking cap and tell your friends you’ll be attending the gala of the century. We’ll meet you there to kick some trivia butt, have a beer and hand out some sweet prizes! For now, mark your calendars: the evening of May 20th, you will be doing some good! Write on!! We’re honored and humbled to have received creative writing submissions from our own board members, as well as permission to publish from some of our class participants. Every woman … Continue reading

One step at a time: Conspire board member testifies

Lauren Johnson, a Conspire board member, testified earlier this week in the House Human Services Committee on the three SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) bills up for review. Based on prior felony drug convictions, her children are only eligible for food stamps while her and her husband would be denied. Lauren has been very proactive and vocal to push for positive changes in Texas law to make it easier for individuals to re-enter society, be more than just a person with a record and simply maintain a healthy lifestyle. Thank you Lauren for speaking on SNAP requirements!