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  • - Prison is no fun place to be,

  • and I remember just being very lonely

  • heartbroken girl until Marcelino came into my life.

  • (calm music)

  • Hi everyone, my name is Brittany Santiago.

  • I'm the author of

  • "One Woman's Journey: Surviving the Streets"

  • - Hey, my name is Marcelino and I met my wife in prison,

  • and I'm here to tell you my side of the story.

  • - I'm here to tell my side of my love story

  • with my husband Marcelino.

  • My life prior to my marriage,

  • very sad, very difficult unfortunately.

  • I had a rough childhood which ultimately led me to prison.

  • When I was very young I ended up running away from home.

  • I just felt like I could find a better life

  • if I left and unfortunately that was not true.

  • There was a homeless teenager and I ended up

  • hooking with up with a few people

  • that got me addicted to meth.

  • You know, years of drug abuse,

  • I ended up being arrested at age 18,

  • and I served five years in prison.

  • - My life prior to meetin' Brittany

  • was full of ups and downs.

  • I was here and there and everywhere in the wind.

  • I never was constrained by anybody.

  • I started to make the switch and be serious

  • with somebody when I just started realizing,

  • you know, you go around the world,

  • you see things, go places, and you start feeling

  • like you wanna share your accomplishments with somebody.

  • And that's what made me wanna reach out

  • and get serious about a relationship.

  • - So prison is obviously not a very happy place,

  • and on top of it I was doing the best I could

  • to just dive into some soul searching and try to change,

  • because I knew that prison wasn't a place

  • I ever wanted to return.

  • And once you start on a path of finding yourself

  • and becoming a better person, it separates you

  • from the people in prison.

  • So prison then becomes even more lonely.

  • I ended up posting an ad on a pen pal website,

  • and a couple of months later I got a letter from Marcelino

  • telling me that he's interested in a friendship,

  • and he would really like to talk to me.

  • And that's pretty much where it all started.

  • Our love story really honestly started with a letter.

  • - I actually met Brittany through a site

  • called Meet-An-Inmate which I learned about

  • through a friend of mine who had been in prison himself.

  • I didn't necessarily look for somebody

  • who was in prison but it just so happened to be that way.

  • Didn't necessarily think I was gonna find somebody,

  • however, scrolling down, scrolling down,

  • seeing Brittany's profile at first made me wanna stop,

  • made me wanna see who was the woman behind those eyes.

  • - In prison and in jail we don't really have access

  • to the internet, and so the only thing

  • that we could do to stay connected to people

  • outside of prison is write letters.

  • I actually had like, three or four different pictures up.

  • You're able to mail those in to the pen pal companies

  • and they put 'em on your profile.

  • - And with the letters, you can give explicative photos,

  • who you are, in detail, what it is that you're looking of

  • your partner in life.

  • But she actually came to me very truthful and very honest.

  • - As soon as I received his letter,

  • I was like wow I really like this guy.

  • He sounds attractive, he sounds funny.

  • And how he said he was drippin' in tattoos.

  • Just by the way he writes,

  • you could obviously tell that he was very educated.

  • - From the letters, and the way she was explaining herself

  • and her situation, how she got into that predicament,

  • it was easy for me to reserve judgment

  • and get to know her and see who she was.

  • - He only wrote me one letter,

  • I responded with one letter,

  • and in a couple of days later he was there

  • at the jail to visit me.

  • The officers post a little paper

  • saying who has visits for the day and at what time.

  • I had like all of these nerve wracking feelings.

  • So I had gotten ready for my visit,

  • and when I came down to my visiting screen

  • I kinda saw him but he wasn't really

  • like full screen on the visit he was kind of

  • ducked off to the side.

  • And when I sat down I was like,

  • "What are you doing?"

  • - It was a screen, so I was off to the left

  • just a little bit just to make sure she wasn't--

  • (laughing)

  • She was who she said she was on paper and in the pictures.

  • And then when she finally did appear

  • to sit down I went ahead and sat down,

  • we had a conversation.

  • - He was like, "I just wasn't sure if you were

  • "cat fishing me so I wanted to kinda stay off to the side

  • "in case you were I was gonna leave."

  • (laughing)

  • - From that first conversation towards the end

  • I knew that I wanted to continue, or carry on,

  • to see where it could go.

  • - I had like deeply fallen in love with Marcelino

  • and I had no end to my case,

  • it was just ongoing, court date after court date.

  • So the biggest struggle was just not knowing

  • when I was going to be able to come home

  • and actually start my life with him.

  • - Dating somebody who's in jail

  • and particularly dating Brittany,

  • there was always that skepticism

  • if she was gonna be who she said

  • that she was going to be.

  • You know walk it like you talk it once you get out.

  • - There was plenty of times where I was really

  • missing Marcelino when I was in jail and in prison,

  • because we go on lock downs a lot,

  • like if two other people start fighting

  • they'll shut the whole unit down.

  • Can't use the phone, you can't go outside

  • and get recreational yard, you can't do anything.

  • It made it, my time, so much more difficult.

  • - When they get put on lockdown,

  • you go two or three days without a call

  • and just trying to figure out like what's happening.

  • And you get her on the phone about

  • what little situations she's trying to stay away from,

  • or who's causing a ruckus over here or there.

  • And that definitely brings the stress level.

  • - I never worried about Marcelino leaving me,

  • because he showed me this loyalty

  • that he did not owe me.

  • And he was more faithful and dedicated

  • to being there for me than my own family,

  • or friends or people I have known for years.

  • You know, he owed me nothing,

  • and he just showed up in my life one

  • day and he stayed consistent

  • and it was through his actions and nothing that he said

  • that I was able to trust him.

  • - You're literally out of sight, out of mind,

  • and you're only lifeline is people out there

  • supporting from the outside.

  • - We dated for about a year while I was in jail,

  • and I ended up goin' to prison for about six months.

  • And when I was in prison I actually got

  • personal contact visits with him.

  • Where we could share one kiss and one hug,

  • and so that was really nice.

  • - We're there in the presence of guards,

  • and everybody else, we can't really have an intimate moment.

  • But I was very overjoyed to see

  • that we'd come to that point,

  • to be able to be in front of each other.

  • - I was happy to be alone with him,

  • and to be in person, and to see him face to face,

  • because it's a lot different than

  • seeing him on a screen.

  • So that actually helped us connect even deeper

  • before I was able to come home.

  • - The day Brittany was released,

  • you saw it, everybody saw it in America,

  • everybody saw for the world to see.

  • We were there, the cameras,

  • that was actually when Brittany got out.

  • - Marcelino and I had been filming

  • on Love After Lockup Life After Lockup.

  • Which pretty much follows couples

  • who met in the unique circumstances