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Jessica Ann Miller | Longest female stay, 2 1/2 years

Pasco County jail special report: Longest incarcerated female inmate awaits her trial

Jessica Ann Miller has been in the jail for 2 1/2 years.

Jessica Ann Miller has been in the jail for 2 1/2 years.

Jessica Ann Miller has never heard of YouTube. It was still just a small dot-com start-up recently acquired by Google when Miller entered the Land O'Lakes jail in February 2007.

Miller, now 28, has been in the jail longer than any other woman inmate.

She knows Barack Obama is president, and she knows Michael Jackson just died. But other than that, Miller says she feels cordoned off from all contact with the outside world. In 2 1/2 years, she has only left the jail (which has limited TV channels and no newspapers or radios) to be transported to court.

Her next trial date is set for September. She is being held without bond, accused of selling cocaine and violating her probation.

The deputies all know her; she remembers when many of them were still in training. She's seen other inmates cycle in an out six or seven times while she hasn't moved. She's known for her seniority, and newcomers come to her for advice on how to get by in jail.

"I tell them about the Lord," she said. "I need Him. He comforts me."

She said she is closer to God now, although she grew up in a church-going family and always believed in Christianity. She left her mother, a truck driver, and step-father, an alcoholic, in Baltimore when she was 13 and moved in with her grandmother in Florida, but she imposed too many rules. Miller moved back to Maryland, dropped out of school, then returned to Florida, where she was arrested for armed robbery.

"I messed up," she said.

She started hanging around the wrong crowd and got involved in drugs. Miller spent most of her time between ages 17 and 23 in prison.

But now she is ready to move on. The deputies have noticed how the past 2 1/2 years in jail have changed her.

"I don't never want to go through this again," she said. "This was enough."

Reading the Bible helps her get by. When she gets out, she said she is determined to break the cycle. It's hard, she said, because "people look at you differently" when you have a criminal record. But she won't use that as an excuse this time, she said. She wants to join a nice church, go back to school and become a hairdresser.

"I can't do much," she said, "but I can do hair. Something to keep me out of trouble."

Pasco County jail special report: Longest incarcerated female inmate awaits her trial 08/08/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 8, 2009 2:43pm]
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