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Moore woman finds direction, comfort in ReMerge program

Chrystal Kinsey recently completed the yearlong program that aims to keep women with children out of prison.
by Matt Patterson Published: July 15, 2013

Chrystal Kinsey was back in the Oklahoma County Courthouse last week, only on this occasion she wasn't wearing orange and she had a smile on her face.

Kinsey was one of four women to graduate Tuesday from the second class of the ReMerge program.

ReMerge is a yearlong diversion program for women who are facing prison time. Those who are eligible avoid that prison time if they complete the program.

Kinsey had multiple felony counts including manufacturing narcotics, child endangerment and firearms violations.

“There were nine felonies behind my arrest,” she said. “I was looking at 10 to 15 years.”

As Kinsey sat in a courtroom, the irony of the moment wasn't lost on her.

“This is a much happier occasion,” she said. “It's a lot different being on the other side of the wall. There is a lot less anxiety and stress.”

A tough year

That's not to say the last year has been a walk in the park. Her mettle was tested May 20 when a tornado destroyed her son Eric's school, Plaza Towers Elementary, while he was inside.

For those grappling with drug addiction stress is often a trigger. Her memory of that day is one of fear and comfort, when the family was finally together again later that night.

“When we got out of our shelter and saw everything was OK, we turned on the radio and heard Plaza Towers had been hit,” Kinsey said. “My cousin and I jumped in the car and we tried to get over there. We got as far as Fourth Street and Telephone Road.”

To get there Kinsey had to go through a creek that was neck high, swimming across, and running the rest of the way to the destroyed elementary school where seven children died. What she saw when she finally arrived took her breath away.

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by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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