After 17 Years, I'm Bringing My Little Sister Home from Prison

When we were little, we used to tell our mama she had good ears. My little sister and I would whisper under the covers in our bed after lights out, and somehow mom could always hear us. She'd tell us to quit talking and go to sleep.

Tomorrow I'm going to pick up my sister from prison. She's been away for 17 years, and until last December I thought she would never come home. I can't wait to drive back to my house, get in bed, and tell each other everything like we used to.

You'd think I had a twin. As kids, my sister and I looked a lot alike. Our mom used to dress us the same. Even as we got older, we wore the same kinds of clothes. We raised our small kids together. We both wanted to style hair for a living. Since she's been gone, a part of me has been missing. A part of me has been locked up for years.

Stephanie was 26 with four small kids when she was sentenced. Even though the judge objected, a mandatory minimum law meant that she got life without the possibility of parole for being "a girlfriend and bag holder and money holder" in a drug conspiracy.

I tried to make being in there easy for her. At first, I wouldn't tell her the bad things. But our father died when she was in there. I tried to hide our dad's sickness from her, and I had to tell her he'd passed. I know she was worried about me having to bury him alone, without her. "From here on," she said, "I want you to promise me that no matter what's going on outside, I want to know the truth."

Stephanie and I have kept each other going. I was the one to tell her that her son was shot and killed in October. I told her that the Sunday before he died, I saw him in the audience at church when I was singing in the choir. I know he got saved that day. She's made peace with it. I've been there since she went inside, and I'm going to be there when she gets out. It's all going to happen for her again – the grieving – when she comes home.

When Stephanie was sentenced, I took her kids into my home and raised them. I am grateful I had the strength to keep pushing on to make sure that her kids got to the prison to visit their mom. She told me horror stories of some of the women in there who didn't have a family outside to help with the kids. It was a rough role, but I thank God for giving me the strength to raise them all. I talked to my sister on the phone last week and joked that once she gets home, I am going to take a month vacation. She said I deserve it.

Even when they said she had a life sentence, I never accepted that. I've been praying and fighting for this day since day one. And the fighting has paid off. Finally, my sister's sentence has been commuted by President Obama.

She has a lot to come home to that she's lost, but we're going to make some happy times. I've lost 17 or 18 years together with her, but we're still young and can enjoy the rest of our lives together. Mom and I are spending all day today baking, and the whole family will be waiting for Stephanie when we pull into the drive way tomorrow.

I just can't wait. I haven't even been sleeping. I woke up this morning, and the first thing I thought was tomorrow is going to be the day. The day she comes home.

All I can say is if you have a sister, hold on to her.​

UPDATE - April 17th, 2014

This morning, Stephanie George was released after her 17-year incarceration. She joyfully embraced her sister Wendy outside the prison.

Stephanie George hugging her sister Wendy

 

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Joy

I am so glad that your sister is finally able to come home. You are such a wonderful person to have always been there for her. I wish all the very best for you both and for the kids.

Anonymous

I sob as I read your letter. The sorrow that comes with incarceration is tangible - for so much that is lost. Yes, most of make it through, but at what cost? The children are the ones that suffer the most. Why do we, as a society, punish these little ones for the sins of their parents? Drug offenders should be receiving treatment. People who commit non-violent crimes should be held accountable by giving back to society in a positive way.
We all can make a difference by letting our representatives know what we think about mass incarceration. Make the call. Now!
May your family be held in everlasting love and never be seperated again.

Nichole McCray-...

First off.... CONGRATS to u, ur sister, her kids, & ur family. It is so amazing to know this kind of miracle(s) really do happen to people in our society. Wendy, ur story touched my heart very deeply as I too have a sister serving time. My baby sister was taken into custody on my 2nd wedding anniversary, August 11, 2009 at 26 years old with a 10 yr old son. That day her public defender lead us to believe she was getting 10 yr federal sentence for conspiracy to manufacture & distribute meth in Missouri's biggest meth lab bust in history last I knew. However, she was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison along with 1 of the true masterminds, & another female. She was nothing more than a 14 year meth addict trying to stay "Comfortably Numb" as she always told me. Yes, she did sell occasionally, but NEVER did she hands on make the stuff. Due to our upbringing & belief u do not snitch... by the time her boyfriend at the time convinced her to talk, she had nothing to offer cause all the other co-conspirator's had beat her to the punch including her boyfriend's best friend & second mastermind in the operation. As I said earlier, that the 2nd mastermind also got 20 years. My sister was NEVER offered ANY kind of abuse help or any other recovery assistance in 14 years, but had been in & out of the Jackson County & Missouri state court systems. Once offered the help she ran with it & has no desire to ever go back.
With 5 years down time can't go fast enough for her or I as we are VERY close as well... like mother/daughter as we r 8 years apart & I raised her over half her life due to our drug addict mother. There are SOOO MANY memories through the years, but I miss the random things, thoughts, words, that popped in our heads randomly leaving us & those around us ROLF or just being there for each other through whatever obstacles we run into! During her 5 yrs away life has been hell... 1st she went away in '09, our other sisters dad died Dec 2010, our grandma (woman who raised us) unexpectedly had aneurysm Nov 2010 then died March 2011, leaving me devastated as she was my mom in my eyes/heart. After burying grandma my life literally fell apart... my husband & I separated July 2011 to Dec 2011, started a divorce, & I was going to Texas for 2 wks at a time to see some idiot old friend while throwing away EVERYTHING from my marriage, my life, etc & seriously hurting/scarring all our kids, family, friends, & us. Due to all this my husband & I decided we couldn't take my nephew this time. We had raised him from 2002-2007, until he dad took him while we were at grocery store. So, since approx March 2011 he has lived with our mother.
EVERY single day I think of my sister & my heart longs for her to be home & I know the day is coming when she will be coming home to us as your sister is tomorrow. My gut/heart/soul tells me she will be out before that 17 1/2 year prison term she received is over! I have been following, supporting, & spreading the word about F.A.M.M.'s work & all these possibilities that are on the table that would most likely impact my "Baby Girl" & reducing her time she has to serve! I can't wait for the day I too will be able to hold her in my arms outside of those prison walls!! I wish u & ur family the best... cherish every moment u have 2gether! Hell give her a huge hug for me while your at it as I now sit here with tears rolling down my checks cause I know I will be in your shoes 1 day very, very soon!
Much Love & Joy,
Nichole McCray-Miller (40)
Independence, Mo.

Anonymous

First off.... CONGRATS to u, ur sister, her kids, & ur family. It is so amazing to know this kind of miracle(s) really do happen to people in our society. Wendy, ur story touched my heart very deeply as I too have a sister serving time. My baby sister was taken into custody on my 2nd wedding anniversary, August 11, 2009 at 26 years old with a 10 yr old son. That day her public defender lead us to believe she was getting 10 yr federal sentence for conspiracy to manufacture & distribute meth in Missouri's biggest meth lab bust in history last I knew. However, she was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison along with 1 of the true masterminds, & another female. She was nothing more than a 14 year meth addict trying to stay "Comfortably Numb" as she always told me. Yes, she did sell occasionally, but NEVER did she hands on make the stuff. Due to our upbringing & belief u do not snitch... by the time her boyfriend at the time convinced her to talk, she had nothing to offer cause all the other co-conspirator's had beat her to the punch including her boyfriend's best friend & second mastermind in the operation. As I said earlier, that the 2nd mastermind also got 20 years. My sister was NEVER offered ANY kind of abuse help or any other recovery assistance in 14 years, but had been in & out of the Jackson County & Missouri state court systems. Once offered the help she ran with it & has no desire to ever go back.
With 5 years down time can't go fast enough for her or I as we are VERY close as well... like mother/daughter as we r 8 years apart & I raised her over half her life due to our drug addict mother. There are SOOO MANY memories through the years, but I miss the random things, thoughts, words, that popped in our heads randomly leaving us & those around us ROLF or just being there for each other through whatever obstacles we run into! During her 5 yrs away life has been hell... 1st she went away in '09, our other sisters dad died Dec 2010, our grandma (woman who raised us) unexpectedly had aneurysm Nov 2010 then died March 2011, leaving me devastated as she was my mom in my eyes/heart. After burying grandma my life literally fell apart... my husband & I separated July 2011 to Dec 2011, started a divorce, & I was going to Texas for 2 wks at a time to see some idiot old friend while throwing away EVERYTHING from my marriage, my life, etc & seriously hurting/scarring all our kids, family, friends, & us. Due to all this my husband & I decided we couldn't take my nephew this time. We had raised him from 2002-2007, until he dad took him while we were at grocery store. So, since approx March 2011 he has lived with our mother.
EVERY single day I think of my sister & my heart longs for her to be home & I know the day is coming when she will be coming home to us as your sister is tomorrow. My gut/heart/soul tells me she will be out before that 17 1/2 year prison term she received is over! I have been following, supporting, & spreading the word about FAMM's work & all these possibilities that are on the table that would most likely impact my "Baby Girl" & reducing her time she has to serve! I can't wait for the day I too will be able to hold her in my arms outside of those prison walls!! I wish u & your family the best... cherish every moment u have together! Hell give her a huge hug for me while your at it as I now sit here with tears rolling down my checks cause I know I will be in your shoes 1 day very, very soon!
Much Love & Joy,
Nichole McCray-Miller (40)
Independence, Mo.

Anonymous

How exciting. I am so glad President Obama is finally pardoning and communing sentences. I had thought he would be more aggressive in granting more clemency petitions to people like your sister, but I'm glad she is a beneficiary. Too many women are in prison for putting their trust in the wrong man. May you have a beautiful Easter together again.

Anonymous

I am so very, very happy for Wendy's family. I hope these sisters have a beautiful first free day together!

Anonymous

I am so very happy for these sisters and their family. I pray you have a beautiful first free day together!

Anonymous

welcome home

Carol Young-Phillips

What an awesome story Wendy. I lived around the corner from you guys and watched you kids grow up. I am so inspired by you, your courage, love
commitment and loyalty is like none I have ever seen. I am so happy for you and your family, especially Stephanie and her children. I pray that God will continue to show His Grace and Mercy upon Stephanie and the rest of the family, and that the love you have for one another continue to be as strong and as deep and as wide as it is now. Blessings on you all now and forever. Amen.

Anonymous

I'd say carrying a pound of cocaine and nearly 40.000$ of drug money that's something you just don't do. Other countries - even civilized ones like Singapore - have death penalty for such an amount. So the girl is lucky of being sentenced in the US, otherwise she would have lost her head. What you don't see is people getting addicted by cocaine, committing crimes by themselves for paying their drug consumption etc. A bad childhood, poor living conditions , being pregnant is NOT an excuse for helping other people in drug trading. I have to repeat - it was a pound and not a gramm. That's 500 shots not one.

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