YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — It wasn’t the first time Lisa Bonds had watched the evening news behind bars. But it was the first time she watched a story about herself there — one she knew was coming because she had been in contact with her boyfriend Corey Conklin, who had been advocating for her from outside.
“And I said to the girls, ‘The six o’clock news in coming on!'” Bonds, 38, recounted of what happened last Tuesday night. “So we all sat on one side of the pod and watched it. And I got all teary-eyed.”
By Thursday, she was out of York County Prison, home with Corey and their two eight-month-old kittens, Eli and Ashton. And the changes had started even sooner than that.
“And then all of a sudden [after the abc27 story aired], medical is coming down. Mental health came down,” said Bonds, who had been without her prescription medication for thyroid issues, mental health conditions, and asthma for the more than a month she was jailed for failing to pay court-ordered fines while on probation for a previous offense.
She said she was seen by medical professionals five or six times during her final two days in prison, compared to once or twice during the previous month — and that wasn’t for her known issues.
“If I wanted my inhaler,” she said, asked for an example of what had been withheld, “they told me to ask for a breathing treatment. Well by time medical gets down there to see where I was located, I would’ve keeled over.”
Although “baffled and excited” after the quick release following the ordeal, Bonds said two things prevent her from being completely satisfied. First, the thought of friends still stuck behind bars who “have the same baseline story that I do” — probation violations related to non-violent offenses.
“It breaks my heart to know that I got lucky, that I got to come home,” Bonds said. “And they’re still sitting in there.”
Second, there’s the reality that Bonds herself faces more of an ordeal. She said for failing to pay those court costs that were in the hundreds of dollars — she didn’t have the exact figure handy — she faces a five-year extension of her probation, involving regular trips into the city of York from her home in northern York County.
She explained the cycle: Those trips cost money and prevent her from earning money during that time, and she still faces the costs that landed her behind bars this time in the first place.
Still, aware of what faces others and potentially themselves again someday, Bonds and Conklin are allowing themselves to feel thankful.
“My belief is she’d still be sitting there right now had you not run the story, so we’re very, very grateful,” Conklin said.
Bonds and Conklin both said they don’t blame individuals at the prison — Bonds went out of her way to say how well corrections officers had treated her, saying they spend their days in what she considers the same COVID-19-infested prison where she was (where inmates had tested positive 834 times since the beginning of the pandemic, as of Jan. 7).
“We weren’t trying to get anybody in trouble by talking to you guys,” Conklin said. “It was just getting it out. Hopefully necessary changes are being made.”
Bonds doesn’t deny her own role in landing in prison in the first place after being arrested for retail theft. “I want to do different things this time,” she said. “I don’t want to be back in that system or back in that jail.”
A York County spokesman declined to comment for this story. York County Judge Gregory Snyder, who ordered the drug and alcohol evaluation that prevented Bonds from being released, declined to comment for the initial story.