Editor’s note: Second of a two-part series.
TALLAHASSEE — Linda Courtright sometimes wakes up crying in her cell.
“I dream about him,” Linda said during her first interview last week at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee.
Linda was talking about her son, Nicholas Block, who was 15 when he overdosed in June 2009 after a night of partying in a North Port motel with his mom and her husband Billy.
“I miss Nicholas,” Linda, 39, said. “I love him. I didn’t get to see him become a man or get married. I think about him all the time.”
She lost her three younger children, now between the ages of 10 and 13. The state placed the kids with other families, and they since have been adopted.
“I couldn’t have asked for better adoptive parents,” she said.
She lost contact with most of her family. They don’t speak to her anymore — not after what happened in that motel room.
“I know I hurt them,” she said. “I had a problem. I couldn’t say no.”
Linda and Billy were arrested on a federal charge of distributing oxycodone, which resulted in Nicholas’ death. At the time of Nicholas’ death, opiates, cocaine and benzodiazepine were found in his urine. Linda and Billy pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prisons.
Linda is expected to remain in prison until 2022. Billy, who currently is housed at the federal prison in Coleman, Fla., likely won’t be released until 2033.
“If I had a chance, I’d do everything differently,” Linda said. “I would have been the mother I should have been.”
That’s what she is trying to do now.
“I miss my children. I miss hugging them, playing with them, being there for them,” she said. “I am missing everything right now that they really need me there for them. They are my world. They are what keep me going every day.”
Linda wakes up at 6 a.m. each day and dresses in her khaki, prison-issued uniform. She goes to the laundry, eats breakfast, and starts her job as an orderly at the low-security federal prison. After lunch, she exercises (Linda has lost 32 pounds since her arrest) and attends classes.
“I have completed a lot of different classes,” she said. “I am trying to better myself mostly for my children and me. I want to be a mother they can count on and be proud of.”
Only a few other inmates know why Linda is incarcerated. But if she hears about a mother having trouble with a drug-addicted child, she shares her story.
“What happened was an accident, but we should have been more responsible,” Linda said. “I don’t want this happening to another family.”