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


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

Hope v. Reality


Just a few weeks before the news lit up with stories of Whitney Houston’s life and death, I had read in a letter from someone that an acquaintance of ours had died of a heroin overdose. While my mind instantly pulled out the “ that can’t be, someone just saw him a few days/weeks/months ago” denial speech. I knew logically that it wasn’t far fetched. No surprise here. He is not the first, and unfortunately unlikely to be the last. I can think of at least four funerals off the top of my head that I have been to which were celebrating lives that were taken way too soon, and in some way drug related. While I have never heard of an incident of someone overdosing on methamphetamine, I do know people who have gotten shot because of someone using it. Sleep deprivation and chemical cocktails make for unhappy endings. … Continue reading

Love and Money

Money in a Heart

Another holiday season has come and gone. This year I had the chance to notice something, and not for the first time. I see how we attach our own value to money, belongings and gifts both on the receiving and giving ends. It was easier to see and call out as ridiculous in my roommate, of course but that made me look in the mirror and reevaluate. My roommate was raised by parents who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose religion requires that they not celebrate Birthdays, Christmas, etc. So my friend never had the Christmas experience that so many of us grew up with and does not observe those practices as an adult. She admittedly tries to make up for what she feels she missed out on. She buys an outrageous amount of presents for her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews etc. Her sister does the same thing. She has gone … Continue reading

Sexual Abuse and Trauma


Trigger Warning – this post discusses childhood sexual abuse and rape. Conspire alum Lauren Johnson continues her series on incarceration, addiction, criminal justice and life in general. Recently I had the opportunity to tag along with Kat to an “Inner View” with KOOP personality Abigail Mahnke. Kat did a fabulous job talking about her craft, (pun intended) and I thought going in that I was prepared for the usual questions that I am asked about Conspire. For the most part that was true although there was a small section that I stumbled around in and couldn’t think clearly enough to articulate what I would have wanted to say. All of that said, Abigail asked me an unexpected question that I didn’t stumble with. I do, however, think that it is a question that I would like to explore a little more here. We were discussing how many of the women … Continue reading