Ginny Burton came from a broken home. Born to drug-addicted parents, she was addicted to meth herself by the time she was just 12 years old. Now, she has completely turned her life around. She is a political science graduate from The University of Washington. Her goal is to prove that people can do extraordinary things when given the chance.

The Story of Ginny Burton

Ginny Burton was one of seven children born to drug-addicted parents. Her father went to prison early in her life after a string of armed robberies and never returned once he got out. The first time she did marijuana was with her mother and brothers when she was only six years old. By the time she was 12, she was addicted to meth, and by 14, she was smoking crack. All she knew was a life of drugs and crime.

According to KOMO News, she later got pregnant, but the father of that child was shot and killed. Eventually, she got married and had two kids with an abusive partner. At 17, she attempted suicide for the first time; at 21, she began shooting heroin, and by 23, she was a full-on addict. She robbed people, has shot someone before, stole cars, and was constantly in abusive relationships.

“I am that person. I have 17 felony convictions. I am the person you used to clutch your bag when I walked by you. I am the person that would randomly attack somebody in public. I was not a savory person. Everybody was a victim, and everybody was prey.”

Ginny Burton, KOMO News

Prison Sentences Saved Her

Ginny went to state prison three times. Every time she went, it gave her time to think, reflect, and get clean. Each time they released her, however, it was only a matter of time before she was using drugs again. It was a “drug vortex” that she couldn’t escape.

Authorities arrested her one final time in December of 2012. She had spent the night on meth and heroin, committing forgery crimes, and was driving a stolen truck. A cop tried to pull her over for a broken light, and she panicked. Driving high, she nearly crashed into a tree while trying to escape the officer. The funny thing is that when the officer arrested her, she felt relieved instead of upset.

“I knew I was OK. I knew when he put the handcuffs on me and put me in his car, I knew my life was going to change and it was then, in that moment, that I made the decision to turn it around no matter what it took.”

Source: KOMO News
This time she pleaded for them to place her in the Drug Diversion Court Program rather than a regular prison. The judge conceded, and she went through the rehab program at the Regional Justice Center. This time, she didn’t just get clean – she stayed that way. Ginny hasn’t looked back since.

Ginny Burton: Her Life Post-Prison

For the next seven years, she did social work. She worked with former inmates and people with drug addictions and mental health problems. Ginny then went back to school and got her high school diploma. She discovered that she was actually really good at learning, and she enjoyed it. The University of Washington then not only accepted her application, but they gave her a scholarship. At the age of 47, she began studying political science.

“I had a lot of insecurity at first, I was significantly older than the majority of people I was sitting in classrooms with. And I was reading up to 350 pages a week in a field I had no understanding of.” (1)

Source: KOMO News
She ended up being one of the best students in her class and received two more scholarships upon graduation. Her next goal is to get her master’s degree and become a prosecutor.

“I’ll be really honest with you, I’m about to sound horrible, I’m sure, but my potential goal is to be a prosecutor because I want reform in that area. I think that there needs to be a different kind of awareness when prosecuting crimes. There are a lot of crimes I don’t want to defend. The goal is to be an elected official. I am really disheartened by politicians on both the national, state, and local levels.” she explained.

Source: University of Washington Magazine

A Reconciled Relationship

Her husband, Chris Burton, had also just finished serving time. While she was in school, she worked hard to rebuild her relationship with him. With her help, he, too, is now clean. Ginny inspires him every day to achieve more. The couple moved to a small town outside of Seattle to a place that is quiet and peaceful.

“I see a lot of the things behind the scenes, the hard work she puts in, the passion, her fire. She really genuinely wants to help people. She wants to help those at the bottom rise to the top, and I believe that she will.” Chris says.

Source: KOMO News

Where Are Her Kids?

Ginny tried hard to keep her kids away from her lifestyle. Unfortunately, growing up in the foster care system was hard on them.

“My 28-year-old son served a prison sentence for something he did as a juvenile. They charged him as an adult. He doesn’t have the same kind of issues, but stuff happened in foster care because that’s where they ended up growing up,” she explains. “His sister is in active addiction, not to the extent that I was, but she’s destructive to herself. So my lifestyle, even though she wasn’t directly exposed, still impacted her, and she’s dealing with things the same exact way.”

Source: University of Washington Magazine
She is currently taking an active role in her children’s lives to help them overcome their problems. More than most, she knows the toll that this lifestyle has, and she is open with her children about what her life looked like. Explaining to Washing University Magazine, she said, “I don’t want them to follow down my path. It’s a painful path. I don’t wish it on anybody.”

Ginny is an example that with the right help and support, people can turn their lives around. She hopes that with her new life, she can help as many people as possible get the help they need, just like she did.

“My story isn’t an accident,” she said. “I think it will be used for everybody else. Maybe I can be some kind of Pied Piper, to help people recover their own lives. That’s what I care about. There are some days that I wish I could just slip away here, with a garden, and open up a little cafe. But in reality, I know it’s my job to continue to create hope.”



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