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American RadioWorksDocumentaries Hard Time: Life After Prison
Scraping By  |  Marsha and Sons  |  Collateral Damage: East Durham

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Battling addictions to alcohol, sex and crack cocaine
   Eddie in Diner
Eddie sometimes eats his only meal of the day at a low-cost diner near his apartment. Photo: Steve Schapiro / American RadioWorks

Eddie was not always the sort of person who breaks into prayer with near-strangers. He turned to religion in prison. Eddie grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of a policeman. He quit high school to join the Navy and later held a series of jobs back home. He battled, and beat, addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine. But in 1996, his life came apart.

"What it basically was, was sexual addiction," Eddie says. "I put down drugs and alcohol and stuff like that and I just started to get involved with, you know, lewd women. And slowly but surely that became an addiction. And I eventually got hooked up with a young girl and I got in trouble that way."

   Eddie Mugshot
Eddie's mug shot from his arrest in New Jersey

Eddie got caught having sex with a teenage girl. He was sentenced to five years' probation, but was then arrested on a similar charge in Virginia. A New Jersey judge sent him to state prison for multiple counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He served five years and two months. He's now getting treatment for sex addiction as a condition of his parole. Eddie left prison in December of 2001 with no job, literally no money, and little support from his family.

"Because of what I had done, my mother told the rest of my family that they were forbidden to mention my name in her house ever again," Eddie says. "My brother's a police officer. I mean, we were so close when we were kids and he just doesn't answer any of my letters, he doesn't want anything to do with me. And then when I needed two hundred dollars because they were going to turn off my phone and they were going to turn off my water, he told my father to tell me to go someplace else to find it, to take it out of the garbage can where I've taken everything else from. It hurt."

Eddie says it's not surprising that some ex-inmates, shunned by their families and employers, turn to their old friends still doing crime. He says since leaving prison he's met drug dealers and bookmakers who, when they heard he was an ex-con, offered him "jobs."

But he's opted for whatever honest work he can get.

Next: "Have you ever been convicted ... "