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 the old. She is also a co-founder of WomenOverIncarcerated.org, an advocacy group created to shed light on the lengthy sentences of non-violent, female federal offenders and rally for sentencing reform.
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 female offenders across the country.
Discovering her purpose while incarcerated, and encountering injustices within her own case, Jamila T. Davis developed “The High Price I Had To Pay” Book Series, creating a platform for women serving decade plus sentences for non-violent crimes to tell their stories. The success of the series led to the formation of WomenOverIncarcerated.org.
Despite her current obstacles, Davis is committed to paying her way forward and transforming lives through her literary work. From behind bars she’s making a difference!
Get to know Jamila:
(1) Introduce yourself to the audience and tell them a little about your latest memoir “She’s All Caught Up.”
Hello, my name is Jamila T. Davis. I am the author of “She’s All Caught Up.” My book is a memoir about my early life, written as a cautionary tale. It exposes some of the negative influences that led me on a destructive, high speed chase to find fulfillment.
I grew up during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in the 80’s. Back then, it was cool to date drug dealers who were getting significant amounts of money. Just like kids today, my desire to be accepted by my peers caused me to try to appease those I admired, regardless of the consequences. Unlike the average chicks I grew up with, once I got a taste of life in the fast lane I wanted my own share. Instead of simply accepting hand outs from my drug dealer boyfriends, I decided to try my hand in the game. Overnight, I became addicted to the high of getting money and it all went down hill from there!
(2) Please share with our audience where you are at? And, how your current experience sparked the creation of your memoir?
I am currently serving a 12 1/2 year sentence at the Danbury Federal Prison camp in Danbury, Connecticut. It is the same facility where Piper Kerman, author of the book “Orange Is The New Black,” was housed.
While incarcerated, I participated in a prison public speaking program, geared to deter at-risk youth from crime. Hearing teens vow to avoid participating in criminal activities after listening to my story made me recognize the power it had. This inspired me to write my book to warn others about the detriments of living life in the fast lane. I want kids to understand the severe consequences of this lifestyle, so they will think twice before committing crimes.
(3) What audience do you think will benefit most from this book and why?
I think teens will benefit from reading my book, as well as adults. A lot of people from all races and backgrounds have told me they can relate to my story in certain aspects. I created my book to become a mirror that causes readers to reflect. Even if you didn’t make the same mistakes as I did, most of us have been vulnerable to some form of peer pressure or negative influences to gain acceptance. It is my goal to cause readers to dig in and analyze themselves. I share my flaws so that others will have the courage to take a look at their own flaws. We all make mistakes, but true empowerment occurs when we dare to go back and fix them. It’s all about being real and breaking free from the chase that keeps many in bondage.
(4) Share with us a little about how your family life was growing up?
My mother was a school teacher and my father was a NYC Transit supervisor. They migrated from the South to build a better life for their family.
I grew up in an upper middle class home, with two very loving parents. They enrolled me and my brother in all types of activities including dancing, singing, acting, gymnastics and Judo. I had a full schedule and was expected to get straight A’s in school. My parents wanted to ensure that my brother and I had all the things, and opportunities, that they lacked growing up. So for the most part, we were pretty spoiled.
(5) Do you think your childhood life fits the typical prisoner? Please explain.
Not at all! My parents raised me for success. My mother’s dream was for me to become a doctor or lawyer, while being successful in the world of entertainment. They never imagined that I would be enamored by life in the fast lane. My desire to be accepted swayed me over to the other side. After that, there seemed to be no turning back!
(6) What was the changing point in your life that turned you into a “get money” chick?
I was dumped by my first boyfriend, a well known drug dealer, for an older girl who worked in a bakery. He told me he chose her over me because she made her own money, attracting him to her independence. At that moment something went off in my head. I felt like money would be the key factor that brought me happiness and companionship, so I went after it full fledge. Once I saw the attention it got me, I was hooked!
(7) What is your message to teens that think living in the fast lane is cool?
Take a look at my life. Serving time in prison is certainly not cool! Regardless of how smart you think you are or what you think you can get a way with, in the end crime will always catch up to you!
For the past 6 1/2 years I’ve raised my two children from a prison visiting room. I missed out on their birthdays, graduations and all the major holidays. I would give back every dollar I ever made to regain the time I lost with them.
My experience has taught me that nothing is ever worth losing your freedom. Therefore, avoid crime at all cost!
Find the author and buy the book:
Email address- firstname.lastname@example.org
Amazon Link- http://www.amazon.com/Shes-All-Caught-Jamila-Davis
About The Book
She’s All Caught Up is a cautionary tale for young people enamored by the fast life and the older folks that love them. This memoir tells of the negative influences that swayed the early life of author Jamila T. Davis (creator of the Voices of Consequences Enrichment Series). She is currently serving a 151 month sentence for her role in a multi-million dollar bank fraud scheme.
Young Jamila grew up in a loving, middle class home. Her hardworking parents, the Davises, overcame the barriers of poverty and racism faced by African Americans in the segregated South. From the back wood shacks of the rural south, the Davises migrated north, making Jamaica Queens, New York their new home. They drove themselves relentlessly. By education and endless hard work, they attained their portion of the American dream.
Determined to afford their own children the opportunities they themselves never had, the Davises provided their children with a good life, hoping to guarantee their children’s success.
At first, it seemed as though the formula worked. Jamila became her parents’ ideal “star child.” At a young age she performed in dance recitals at Lincoln Center and toured the country in a leading role in an off- Broadway play. Throughout elementary and middle school she maintained straight A’s and was accepted to the acclaimed “Fame” High School of Performing Arts in New York City.
All was copacetic until high school years, when Jamila meets Craig. He was a 16 year old drug dealer from the Southside projects of Jamaica Queens. His street edge fascinated naive Jamila, and he quickly usurped Mrs. Davis’ position as role model and protector.
Jamila became mesmerized by the hustlers and life in the inner city ghetto. Her values quickly changed. She wanted independence, power and notoriety, and she chose life in the fast lane to claim them. With her brains and beauty, she rises to the top!
As this high school teen rebels, breaking loose from her parents’ tight reins, the Davises wage an “all-out” battle to save their only daughter who they love so desperately. But Jamila is in too deep! Poisoned by materialism and the drama of street life, she resists, and the Davis family is turned upside down!
This real-life story exemplifies the powerful societal influences that affect today’s youth, and the almost insurmountable challenges of the older generation who fight hard to protect them. This heartfelt story empowers both youth and adults to understand the tragic consequences of poor choices while instilling the ability to resist them.
When this good girl goes bad, it seems as if there is no turning back.
SHE’S ALL CAUGHT UP!
January 29, 1995
“Pull the car over now!” I heard blaring from a bullhorn as I was suddenly awakened from a deep sleep.
“Oh my goodness, Jamila, wake up!” Theresa shouted as she fiercely nudged me from the driver’s seat of her gray Mitsubishi Mirage.
“What in the world!” I shouted as we pulled over on Capital Boulevard and close to a dozen cop cars surrounded us.
“Oh, God, girl. We are in trouble. I’m so nervous,” Theresa whimpered in a panic as sweat began to pour down her jet-black petite face.
“Calm down, girl. Just act normal,” I instructed, trying hard to gather my composure. My heart pounded intensely as I watched the police gather through the rearview mirror. Two cops exited their vehicle.
“You don’t understand! I’ve got a ton of drugs in the trunk. Oh, man, Jamila, I think we are in big trouble,” Theresa ranted as the cops quickly approached us.
“Young ladies, step out of the car and show me some identification,” the tall, white cop said in a strong Southern drawl as he approached the driver’s door of the vehicle, with his hand tightly gripped on the gun in his holster.
We stepped out of the small, two-door car and fear engulfed me as I watched several other officers swarm our vehicle. It became apparent this was not a routine traffic stop.
“You can make this difficult, or it can be easy. Do you give us permission to search this vehicle, gal?” the officer asked Theresa sharply in his strong Southern accent.
“Well, um,” Theresa mumbled, clearly confused and frightened. “I don’t . . . um. Well, I guess so.”
That’s all the officers needed to hear. They had Theresa’s consent and began to ransack the car. After a brief search, the drugs that were hidden in the luggage in the trunk of the car were quickly apprehended.
Tears rolled down my eyes as Theresa and I were read our rights, handcuffed, and placed in the back of the police car. I was seventeen years old and under arrest!
My life flashed in front of me. What was I going to tell my parents? How could I ever explain this? I was supposed to be enjoying my freshman year at St. Augustine’s University. Instead, I sat in a tiny holding cell at the Wake County Jail in Raleigh, North Carolina.
I nervously stood silent as I was finally taken before a magistrate judge, who formally announced my charges and determined my bail.
“Jamila Davis,” the old white judge announced as he banged his gavel, “I hereby set your bail at two million dollars.”
Two million dollars! I thought in rage and disbelief.
I was escorted out of the small courtroom by the bailiff and sent back to the dark holding cell. I cried uncontrollably as the reality of the consequences of my lifestyle had suddenly crept up on me. I had no clue the power a few bad decisions could have. My life didn’t have to turn out this way. It was one poor choice that ultimately altered my entire destiny!