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'I'd rather be home, but ...'

July 29, 2007|By KAREN HANNA

Time in a county lockup got him clean, but church gave him new life, according to an inmate at the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown who said he's free from the drugs that controlled him.

"I'm through with that. That's the old life, I'm not even that person anymore," said Anthony Andrews, who said drug use first took him prisoner at the age of about 12.

A born-again Christian, Andrews, 47, has tattoos of a lion and bare-breasted women on his arms. He said church services and activities such as guitar classes keep him sane.

During an interview at the prison in May, he expressed no self-pity.

Andrews, of Charles County, Md., is a member of one of the biggest demographic groups at the prison. Like more than one-fourth of his fellow inmates, he's between 41 and 50 years of age, and he's been convicted of the same kind of crime that sent a large percentage of the other inmates away - drug offenses.

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The county jails where he served time earlier in his criminal career were more intense, but prison can be dangerous, Andrews said.

But, he said, he isn't afraid.

Andrews said he has seen men stabbed at the prison, including one inmate who was cut in the neck while standing in the chow line.

His faith already has made him a new man, no matter when the parole board decides to make him a free man, he said.

"You get used to it. From what I be hearing about other institutions, I think it's all right. I'd rather be home, but ..." said Andrews, his voice trailing off.

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