SEATTLE – Ginny Burton was a heroin and crack addict and was convicted of 17 crimes. She was homeless and lived on the streets of Seattle.
Now, at the age of 48, she has overcome everything. She is graduating from the University of Washington on Saturday.
“It’s possible, if I can, anyone can,” said Ginny Burton.
Burton has been arrested more than 20 times to quench her drug addiction. She did everything from identity theft to assault to armed robbery and even theft from drug dealers.
“Whatever I had to do, everyone was a victim and everyone was prey,” said Burton. “There have been a few times when I just barely made it.”
After serving a sentence in every women’s prison in the state, something changed in 2012.
“I looked at my fourth prison sentence and made a decision. The minute I got into the police car. That’s it. I was done and very grateful that I was arrested because I knew it would give me an opportunity to change my life, ”said Burton.
She did her time, got clean, and came out with new dreams. In 2016, the mother of three went back to school. Now she will complete her political science studies at the UW. In the fall she will begin her studies at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.
“I plan to change politics, change politics in the prison system, change politics in our homeless systems, and try to bring some real-life experience to the way things are done,” Burton said.
Bellevue Police officer Craig Hanaumi heard Ginny’s story.
“In our industry we meet a lot of Ginnys, we meet a lot of people of different ages, the commonality is the addiction,” said Officer Hanaumi.
He invited her to visit the department earlier this year to inspire officials.
“It’s kind of therapeutic for us because we don’t see the good things. We meet people at their lowest point, ”said Officer Hanaumi.
On Thursday, the unlikely new friends met again at the police station and tried jiu-jitsu in the gym.
Burton is up and still climbing. Once dizzying, she started mountaineering four years ago. She has already climbed Mount Rainier. This summer, she and her mentor are leading a group up the mountain.
Burton knows she beats all odds and wants others to see that it is possible. She says she saw a friend overcome addiction and that gave her strength.
“I had to believe that I could too, and I think that’s what I give the world,” she said.
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