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Unusual kind of thankful: Behind bars, mom’s OK

Katie Hyde has an unusual reason to be thankful this season.

“My mom’s in jail,” she said.

And while some would lament any time spent away from family, or that fact that a family member was in trouble, Hyde said she knows that because her mother is incarcerated, she is safe.

Katie’s story begins seven years ago, in November of 2010. She was 16.

“On Nov. 19 of 2010, my mom found my dad dead,” she said. “He would have been 37 later that month. They had been together almost 20 years at the time he passed.

Katie’s mom, Stephanie, found solace by escaping reality.

“She started using crack cocaine,” Katie said. “Then, on Sept. 27, 2011, my grandfather, her father, died. It has been downhill ever since.”

Katie said her mom began using all the money she could to feed her habit, and writing bad checks to feed her kids.

“In 2012, she got in trouble for forgery, drug paraphernalia, and possession of a controlled substance,” she said.

The judge threatened to send her to jail, but sent her to rehab, instead.

“She stayed a year and four or five months in Birmingham,” Katie recalled. Her mother also got a job and was doing well.

But when she came home, she soon fell in with the same crowd.

“It was like we started the whole process over again,” she said. “She got arrested. She got behind on fines.”

In one instance, she got picked up for stealing Goody’s powders valued at $2.79.

“That turned in to $600 in fines and $3 in restitution,” she said.

Katie said her mom went from being obese – about 250 pounds – to being bone thin.

“She was taking advantage of a lot of people who wanted to do nothing but help her,” she said. “She moved from crack to meth, and she would cover up and lie about it.”

In September, she was picked up on another drug charge, but made bond. In October, she was charged with burglary, theft of property, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

“She went to court recently, and was sentenced to nine months in prison, so she’ll have to go to Tutwiler. Then she has to do six months of rehab and five years of probation.”

Katie said she knows her mom will be healthier inside than on the outside.

“She was using uppers, and then using downers when she didn’t want to be up anymore. Any time the phone rang late at night, I was scared.”

Katie’s grandfather adopted her, so she has access to his veterans’ benefits. Now 23 and the mother of a toddler, she works full time and is a Troy student. Katie is pursuing a criminal justice major and human services minor, and hopes one day she can help families like hers.

“People look at me weird and say, ‘Are you OK,’ ” she said. “I honestly feel like I don’t want her in jail, but I’m thankful she’s there.”

Katie said she knows her mom is a good person. She’s seen her take in homeless people, and give people who needed it money.

“She just made a stupid decision, and she made it over and over,” Katie said.

“I go every Sunday to see her,” she said. “How she is now reminds me of how she was before she started doing drugs.

“She’s been in jail for almost two months and is thinking very clearly,” she said. “She’s finally understanding what she’s been doing for all these years. I am thankful for the Opp Police, the courts, and Covington County Jail. Without them, my mom would have never gotten the help she needs and very well could have ended up dead on the path she was on.”