Judy Utley on the Importance of a Support System - Women Beyond Bars
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Judy Utley on the Importance of a Support System

Judy Utley, a West Virginia resident,  first began using crack-cocaine when her younger sister introduced her to the drug. Her marriage turned abusive both physically and emotionally, and she turned increasingly to drugs as a release from that.

Her battle with addiction was during the 1980s and 1990s when there were not nearly as many sources of rehabilitation. Utley spent time in prison and frequented rehab multiple times until she got clean. Now, she volunteers as a peer recovery coach at Celebrate Recovery in Clarksburg. CR is a faith-based, 12-step program.

Utley lives in Lost Creek, West Virginia. She has been sober for 22 years and still faces obstacles reentering society today. 

In this video, Judy shares the importance of a strong support system for people re-entering the community after prison. Like many other grandparents in West Virginia, she and her husband Steve are raising their grandchildren. In August of 2019, she lost her job and took in a third grandchild. Judy shares her struggle to raise three grandchildren with only one source of income. Shortly after the production of this video, Judy found another job in Morgantown, a 50-minute drive from her home. 

Video by Patrick Orsagos