Title: She’s All Caught Up!
Author: Jamila T. Davis
Publisher: Voices International Publications
Genre: Nonfiction- Memoir
Title: She’s All Caught Up!
Author: Jamila T. Davis
Interviewed by: Tania Staley, Pacific Book Review
About the Author
Jamila T. Davis, born and raised in Jamaica Queens, New York is a motivational speaker, prison reform activist and the author of several books geared to empower the young and old. Through her powerful delivery, Davis illustrates the real-life consequences that result from poor choices.
As a former Hip Hop Music & Professional Sports Celebrity Advisor and real estate investor, Davis is no stranger to triumphs and defeats. From a self-made millionaire at age 25, her life took a tragic twist. Today she’s known as federal prisoner #59253-053, sentenced to 12 1/2 years for bank fraud.
From behind bars, Davis embarked on an intense journey of inner healing and restoration. Documenting her findings, she created the “Voices of Consequences Enrichment Series,” which has helped to transform the lives of females offenders across the country. Her message of hope transcends to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities: “You don’t have to let your past dictate your future. Success is a matter of choice!”
Today we are talking to Jamila T. Davis, author of “She’s All Caught Up!”.
PBR: It is obvious from this book and other books in your “Voices of Consequences Series” that you are adamant about keeping others from following the same path as you did. What convinced you to share your story and write this series?
Behind bars the picture you see everyday is grim. Watching the women whom I’m housed with, I noticed a pattern. Many of us were caught up in the chase. Some of us chased after love, appreciation and friendship; others chased after money, notoriety and power. For the most part, we were all passionate about what we pursued, which in the end caused us great consequences. Seeing the same story repeat itself over and over, and watching the vicious patterns of self-destruction play out, I felt compelled to write about the baseless pursuits many of us were entangled in. It was my hope that by sharing my own story and revealing my mistakes I would prevent others who are living life in the fast lane from the tragic repercussions of this lifestyle.
PBR: The struggles you went through are still problems for today’s children. They want to be cool, popular, and liked, which can lead to doing the wrong thing in order to achieve these goals. What advice would you give these children so that they don’t make these mistakes?
Love yourself, be yourself and know it’s okay to be by yourself. Chances are, what you think is so important today, will mean absolutely nothing to you 5 years from now. Therefore utilize these precious tender years of your life to discover your gifts and talents and develop them. Happiness is derived from the inside out, so don’t worry about superficial things and what people think. Instead, take time to get to know yourself and start working on how you can become a greater “self.” Never forget you are your most valuable asset. Therefore, protect yourself by not making poor choices that you will later regret!
PBR: I personally really appreciate how honest you were in your memoir. I was especially moved by your discussions on your religion and your concerns of being a hypocrite. This is something I have struggled with, and I think it is something that many people struggle with. People stay on the same path, because it seems like the only option after everything they have done. Could you comment more on this struggles? How does one turn off the negative speak and embrace the correct path?
Wow, what a good question! My entire life I’ve struggled with commitment issues. I like to be a person of my word. I’m either hot or cold. There is no in between with me. Because of this character trait, I am what some may call an extremist, which could be good or bad at times.
From the early days that my parents introduced me to Church, I loved God. I didn’t really know or understand the fullness of who He was at the time, but I could feel His presence. It’s a feeling of serenity and security I have never felt within anything or anyone else! Although I made commitments to God in my past, worldly temptations always seemed to creep in and interfere. This made me feel like I failed. In my mind, I couldn’t play both sides of the fence, so when I fell short I just backed away from God. In essence, I ran away from my calling. The further I ran, the more internal chaos and confusion it caused me.
Today I realize there’s no such thing as out running God. The inner void that lies within all of us can only be filled by Him. Without God our lives will always be miserable, no matter how much money or accomplishments we have achieved. I’ve also learned that God accepts us as we are. He understands that none of us are perfect. He is so ever loving and merciful. Unlike people, God is forgiving and nonjudgmental about our past. Therefore, I would advise anyone who is struggling with temptations to pray and ask God for help. We can not resist temptation without His assistance. When you pray, God will meet you wherever you are. And eventually, as you continue to strive He will remove forbidden desires completely. Always know there is nothing you can do that is too bad to receive God’s forgiveness. All you have to do is sincerely repent and ask for forgiveness. No matter what, He will never leave you or abandoned you if you acknowledge Him and request His help.
In dark places of your life, you will discover God’s strength even more. I could never have survived these past six years in prison without Him. Away from everything I know and love, I discovered the greatness of His power that resides within me. Learning the depth of who I am, and whose I am, has given me the ability to produce my best, even in the midst of the most challenging dilemma of my life- my imprisonment. What He has shown me and allowed me to accomplish is mind blowing and displays the awesomeness of His power!
PBR: While your book serves as a excellent warning to readers, there may be some that see your schemes growing up led to the success and power you wanted, and may think the only downside was that you got caught. What would you say to those readers?
Eventually everyone gets caught. Some get caught earlier in life, others get caught later. I am housed in a facility where more than 50 % of the women are over age 50. The third book in my book series “The High Price I Had To Pay,” is about Gwendolyn Hemphill, a 73 year old woman who I am doing time with. One mistake as a first time, non-violent offender, who happened to be a senior citizen, landed her a 11 year sentence in prison. This woman went from working as a White House liaison to lying in a prison bunk bed in a 5 1/2 x 9 cubicle. This is real! None of us are exempt! More and more women are coming to prison each year. The statistics are steadily increasing. The question that remains is who will be next? Don’t let it be you!
PBR: In the back of your book you advertise the sequel to She’s All Caught Up!, titled The Trade Off, is coming soon. Can you give readers any information about this new book? Other than this sequel, do you have any other projects that you are working on?
“The Trade Off” is about my life from age 17 years old up until I landed in prison at age 31. Ultimately in the face of imprisonment at 17 years old I made a trade to regain my freedom, which almost cost me my life! This book is filled with constant action from high successes to sorrow and turmoil. It further illustrates the chase for fulfillment that I pursued passionately. The older Jamila learns how to make more money and surrounds herself with celebrities and athletes, and she becomes consumed with materialism. Blinded by all that seems to glitter around her she loses sight and doesn’t recognize the gigantic storm up ahead. Face-to-face with adversity there are no more wild cards to create a way of escape. This time she’s trapped and has to find a way to survive.
I anticipate releasing “The Trade Off” next year. This book is certainly going to attract more readers of all ages and backgrounds, because my life is no different from many in the free world, especially those who’ve reached great heights of accomplishment only to discover they still didn’t have true happiness within.
Even though I am locked up physically, I refuse to sit idle. I realize God is using me as a vessel to create change. With the help of family members and friends I initiated the WomenOverIncarcerated.org.org prison reform movement. WomenOverIncarcerated.org is an advocacy group created to bring awareness to the extremely lengthy sentences many women are serving in federal prison as nonviolent offenders. To promote this cause I created “The High Price I Had To Pay” Book Series. Each book takes you behind the scenes into the lives of women serving decade plus sentences. Our books are written as cautionary tales to warn others about the severe consequences of poor choices and to enlighten the public to the dilemmas we face in the U.S. judicial system. This book series is currently being used as educational tools, in at-risk youth programs across the country, to deter crime. It’s a blessing to know that even though we are imprisoned our voices are still being heard, and others are learning from our mistakes. My accomplishments from behind bars have given my life new meaning!
To learn more about “She’s All Caught Up!” please read the review at: Pacific Book Review