Toby Dorr
My Story

My Story

My story of a successful woman who fell is also the tale of a troubled inmate who rose.

If you search this site looking for a broken woman with a felony, you’ll find me. If you read this story hoping for answers, you’ll find a woman living with conviction. With wisdom, you’ll find both. In my story perhaps we’ll find each other.

It was time to take stock. I felt as disposable as the 670,000 dogs put down in the United States every year so I started a prison dog program called Safe Harbor. 

Through Safe Harbor, I helped hardened inmates develop compassion and responsibility. I offered well-adjusted dogs to local families.

Tall, confident, and cool, John Manard, a convicted murderer, noticed me.

Socially engineered safeguards designed to prevent indiscretions only fanned the flames. What began as fun and games under the nose of authority turned criminal when I smuggled him out of Lansing Prison in a dog crate.

A police helicopter illuminated our fugitive run. Like dogs, heavily armed officers bolted us into a tree at 100 miles per hour. 

Convicted, I went to prison where, shockingly, I felt no longer invisible. Within my story of ruin, I discovered who I needed to be. I found freedom behind bars.

Buy Toby’s book: Living With Conviction

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Photo of Toby Dorr Downtown Kansas City
Toby Dorr, October 2019
the year 
I became a number
and a face 
everyone recognized

but no one knew
not even me
who knew 
less than nothing
of the woman 
buried inside

a turning point
that year
that was 
really more 
than a year

the year I lived 
on peanut butter, 
mail call, 
visiting day

the year I sank 
into the deep muck
of depression, 
fears and fate

the year when 
I felt I wasn’t 
entitled to smile
or dream
 
the year when 
the darkness settled 
and waters
became clear
and deep

the year I learned 
that hope 
is blue
like a springtime sky

and prayer is purple
bold and royal
and everywhere

the year 
I was just a number
86519

the year I became
 
me

who was always 
hidden inside...