Some 218,000 men and women with severe psychiatric disorders are incarcerated in an American prison or county jail. Most committed violent crimes -- sometimes murder -- while propelled by a crazed mind untreated with medications and therapeutic care. Cherry Blossoms & Barren Plains: A woman's journey from mental illness to a prison cell, is such a story. My work explores the life of Rebecca Bivens, who beat her five-year-old stepdaughter to death. In 1998, a jury found Rebecca guilty but mentally ill, and sentenced her to life in prison.
Together, Rebecca and I began a story that became larger than her own. It grew into a narrative of Rebecca's mental illness with all of its ramifications: from the lack of society's understanding of a disease that plagues millions of people each day, to the strain on our national budget; and the residual effects on family and friends ill equipped to handle the demands of someone who suffers from a severe mental illness.
About the Author
Larry L. Franklin is 66 years old and resides in Makanda, Illinois. Franklin holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Music, and performed in the U.S. Navy Band, located in Washington, D. C., from 1976 to 1971. From 1972 through 1975, Larry taught music at Southern Illinois University. In 1976, he completed requirements for a Certified Financial Planner designation and maintained a successful investment business until 2007, when he retired to devote his energies to writing. In 2003, Larry received an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.
Each professional pursuit left Franklin with an unsatisfying emptiness that pushed him into marathon running, where he pounded the country roads longing for an answer just around the bend. Then, in 1998, and without warning, repressed memories broke through his subconscious mind like a runaway train, and left him afraid to leave his home. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with dissociative features. What followed were years of psychotherapy where he explored a physically and sexually abusive childhood. Now his problems have been reduced to a persistent mild depression which is controlled by medication and talk therapy. The therapeutic process unleashed his creative side, a new-found ability to write, and an unquenchable curiosity about the human mind. Larry now devotes his time writing about the mentally ill and victims of injustice who yearn for a voice to tell their story.
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