I was released from the Ferguson Unit, a prison in Madison County, Tex., in April, but in many ways I am still confined. As part of my parole, I wear a GPS monitor on my ankle that tracks my whereabouts. When I’m not home — right now, that’s transitional housing in the Houston area run by a religious program — I’m allowed to go only to work, church, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and, once a week, the store. If I deviate from my itinerary, which I give to my parole officer a week ahead of time, I could get arrested.
I’m on some of the most intense monitoring in Texas, the kind that’s used for violent offenders. I was convicted in 2014 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and felony possession of a firearm.
I struggle to navigate my daily life being constrained like this. It makes it hard to do simple things like keep a job, get a car or even come up with enough money to cover parole fees, food and bills.
And the monitor malfunctions sometimes. I’ve had it go off in the middle of the night, and my parole officer called me asking where I was. I said, “I’m in bed.” They’re constantly trying to prove that you’re up to no good.
If nothing else, I’ve learned discipline from this experience. Even in prison, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with worry, like I do now, about doing something wrong.
When it comes off in March, I want to get a license to be a chemical dependency counselor. And I want to spend more time with my father’s side of the family, whom I just reconnected with after all these years.
I’m not scared to tell people about my situation because I know who I am now. I’m not the same person since I gave my life to the Lord in prison. But for people who aren’t used to someone who has been incarcerated, it worries them. They think: You must have done something real bad to have to wear that.
— James Baimbridge as told to Beatrix Lockwood, the Marshall Project
This photo essay was published in partnership with the Marshall Project, a nonprofit newsroom covering the U.S. criminal justice system.
Photo editing by Dudley M. Brooks. Design by Michael Johnson.