I Lost My Job, Apartment, Vehicle, and Time with My Kids Due to Unjust Pretrial Detention

Jul 06, 2023
Myles Martin could not afford bail and waited 30 months for his trial at Hays County Jail in Texas before being acquitted of the charges against him.

Imagine being kidnapped and taken away from your family. Imagine losing years with your children. Imagine losing your godfather and not being able to attend his funeral or console his sister (your mother). Imagine losing your apartment, your job, your vehicle, and a large number of friends. Imagine being told that you are an “inmate,” and that you have no rights.

Fortunately, most people only have to imagine those things. Unfortunately, it was my reality. I lost six months shy of three years of my life, all of which I will never get back. The biggest loss was my relationship with my now eight-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. You cannot rewind time and repair the damage that has been done. There is no making up for the time lost with my children. The limits that incarceration puts on you are so hard to bear.

I’ve been working since a week after I was released in April 2022. I have also had multiple jobs “discontinue” my onboarding process after my background check results. At one point, I'd just started working for a company, and they called me into the office and told me I could no longer continue employment. I pled my case, telling my manager that I was not convicted of those charges, but it didn’t matter. That’s just one of the hardships of trying to get on your feet with a record. The only jobs that allowed me to work were restaurants, so I quickly picked up bartending in order to maximize my profits. I work a minimum of 65 hours a week at two jobs just to make enough to pay off court fees and afford to live.

They often tell you that you're innocent until proven guilty, but in Hays County, it felt like the opposite. It felt like every day they had to show you that you are, in fact, guilty. Maintaining your innocence is counterproductive to the goal of “the system.” It’s too costly. If you believe you are innocent, you are less likely to take a plea and more likely to go to trial. I remember being told by the transport officer, who was ironically named Martin (my surname), that I should just sign the plea bargain because the district attorneys (DAs) are winning all of their trials. He insisted, even after I told him I wasn't guilty. You get to a point where you have to convince yourself. I remember getting my first plea bargain offer and telling my parents and them telling me, “You should go ahead and take the seven [years]. I wouldn’t play with these people.” It’s truly a helpless feeling when the attorney, who supposedly works for you, is saying that signing a plea deal is your best bet. It’s all terrifying.

Lack of communication with my court-appointed attorney was a big issue on the inside. He never once answered his cell phone, and all the letters I sent got returned to the sender. My family and friends’ voicemails were never even opened. He never looked into my case until trial. From October 19, 2019, to March 10, 2022, my attorney never once looked into my case file. All he did was show up every eight months with a ridiculous plea bargain offer telling me I should sign. I remember spending my first week in jail and knowing that it had to be some kind of mistake. I sat in my pod wondering when they were going to call me to pack my things. That week turned into a month, and that month turned into a year. That year turned into two years. Each month that passed, I’d think to myself, “as soon as I go to court I'm going home.” But I never went to court. Not until trial. My lawyer never put in any of the motions I asked him to. And I couldn’t afford to hire someone else.

At Hays County Jail, people who have been locked up tell you to get comfortable no matter what your charge is. They tell you that you won’t see a courtroom. They tell you all these things while they’ve already gotten comfy in their inmate uniforms. Being trapped with an unreasonable bond and no adequate defense will get to even the strongest of us.

I personally believe that if there could be a demonstration of consistent fair trials, some “inmates” may be at home or—in other cases—still alive. When I heard about Joshua Wright being shot to death by a guard, while shackled at the hospital, it rubbed me the wrong way. I knew that guard. I witnessed him body slam a kid who was defending himself from another guy who attacked him. I watched this guard grab the Black kid while the other guy was still punching him. I put myself in Joshua Wright’s shoes and wondered if I would have run, too. And honestly, with the helplessness I felt at times, I can’t say for sure I would’ve done things differently.

As long as there are issues in the criminal justice system, I will continue to fight and bring attention to these wrongful acts. My current focus is to prevent this from happening to anybody else. When I heard the news about a new public defender’s office opening up in Hays County, I rejoiced. I felt like the brothers and family that I left in there may actually have a chance at true justice. I think it will finally give a little bit of hope. I pray it does.

In one of my poems, I wrote, “Hays County, aka hell, awaits your soul. Home of the misdemeanor and I’m still here.” Fortunately, my spirit was unbreakable, but I can’t say that for most of the people who end up on the wrong side of those Hays County walls. As thankful as I am to be out, as long as I know there are still people who shouldn’t be incarcerated being held without representation, I can’t fully rejoice.

Myles Martin is an author, poet, artist, activist, and outstanding young man from McComb, Mississippi. Despite the struggles of wrongful incarceration, Myles maintained a strong mind and fought to overcome. A dedicated, altruistic, kind-hearted leader amongst his peers, Myles personifies perseverance and hard work. He is a beacon for positive interactions and growth wherever he stands.

Vera believes in using our platforms to elevate diverse voices and opinions, including those of people currently and formerly incarcerated. Other than Vera employees, contributors speak for themselves. Vera has not independently verified the statements made in this post.