Habakkuk with his daughter, Aaliyah, and her mother, Antnoisha McMillan, at her middle school graduation. | Provided Photo

Seeking Redemption

The Joy in Family Moments 

Guest Column by Habakkuk Nickens

It’s been one month since I walked out of prison.

I haven’t yet lost my drive to get things done. Before I left, I created a blueprint to follow that consisted of: Budgets, necessities that I had to take care of and reminders of things and people to stay away from. All this so my mind wouldn’t be everywhere or pressured. This blueprint helped me walk step-by-step into what I had to get done. 

Once my friends and family knew that I was home, they came from all over just to see me. The word was only given to a select few. There was hugs, cries and smiles. I am truly thankful to see my loved ones and be around those who stuck by me while I was away. I really didn’t tell no one I was out or post on social media; I wanted a smooth transition and not too many distractions.  

My first week home was dedicated to tackling my necessities: Getting my New York State ID; adjusting my child support, so I can get my driver’s license back in order, and obtaining health insurance to assure and prevent unexpected health issues. In prison, I found limited healthcare provided as well as heath education offerings, so staying on top of those things are up to the individual. I also went shopping for clothes and footwear with the help of friends and family. A support group is much needed especially after doing 10 years. Additionally, I had saved up some money to soften the reintegrating process. 

Posing with Arihanna before she leaves for prom. | Provided Photo

By my second week, I was on the hunt for jobs. I applied to 10  jobs and networked with friends to see who could plug me in to their job. Sure enough, I found two jobs, being offered one of the first positions I applied for, and started working my second week out. One job deals with criminal justice reforms, and the other job is factory type work at a local bakery. The hours were perfect, and the pay was OK. But by mid-June, I was promoted to supervisor.

My observation is that local jobs are seeking people at an all-time high, so getting a job these days wasn’t a problem for an ex-offender. In fact, I even received additional job offerings since accepting my current roles. I came home at the right time.

By week three, I was getting ready to send-off my 14-year-old daughter Aaliyah to her semi formal and graduation. By week four, Arihanna, my 17-year-old, had her prom.

Making it home to see all of this was nothing but a blessing. This could only be God’s plan for me to see.  

Habakkuk Nickens was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, convicted on racketeering charges. His time was cut short thanks to a compassionate release motion and the First Step Act, which reduces prisoners’ time based on participation in recidivism programs. He’s contributing a column in The Stand to document his return home.

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