Fla. deputy inspires inmates through personal story of perseverance

Deputy Toya Adams worked her way from the jail kitchen to a sheriff’s deputy


By Amanda Spence

TAMPA, Fla. — Deputy Toya Adams is inspiring others with her story of how she became a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy at the Vocational Training Center.

Adams, who grew up in College Hills Public Housing in Tampa, was one of seven children being raised by a single mother who experienced abusive relationships, according to WFLA.

“Growing up in an abusive household, being molested. I didn’t think I’d ever make it,” Adams said. “It was rough. I went out to the streets looking for love, that’s all. I thought it was my way out.”

Adams dropped out of high school at 15 and became a single mom dealing with abusive relationships of her own. She promised herself that she’d stop the generational cycle and she found the strength to do it through her daughter.

“I looked at her. I didn’t want her to go through what I went through, so I said I wanted something in life. I wanted that good life,” Adams said. “So I poured into her what my mom couldn’t give me; I wanted to make sure I gave to her more. So that kept me going a lot.”

She started working at the sheriff’s office’s jail kitchen and deputies saw her positive interactions with the inmates there. Adams received encouragement from her peers to become a sheriff’s deputy and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I never thought I was good enough because I didn’t go to school,” Adams explained. “They gave me inspiration and I started looking into and believing in myself that I am somebody. You have to lift people up because some people never heard it before. Nobody tells them that they’re worthy, or they’re loved, or you’re good. They’ve never heard of that before. I put this suit on every day knowing that I’m helping somebody.”

Adams tells inmates that they are the ones with the keys to changing their lives. “It’s easy to lock them up, but what do we do with them when they’re here? We got to give them encouragement to keep them from coming back,” she added.

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