Leaving Home: Wife of J6 Political Prisoner Shares Impact on Families

J6 political prisoner Taylor James Johnatakis is a father of 5 and the sole breadwinner for his family. He went to the Capital on January 6th  “to get content for experiential storytelling, to see a major moment in history, win or lose.”

On November 21, Taylor was found guilty on seven charges, three of them felonies.  He is awaiting sentencing.

Dealing with the impact on her family and knowing other families face similar challenges, Taylor’s wife Marie was inspired to start a non-profit, Left Behind and Without, to provide the children of incarcerated parents with diverse extracurricular activities, something many of these children are unable to experience due to lack of financial resources.

“Parental incarceration was something I had never experienced until it came to my home and my children. When my husband was incarcerated, our family faced a profound shift. Focused on saving money, we had to make difficult choices, and among the first sacrifices were the sports and music lessons our kids cherished. Considering the impact on them, already dealing with the absence of their father, I found myself tearfully discussing it with my mother. In that emotional moment, she offered a lifeline, assuring me not to worry. She pledged to cover the costs of the lessons and extracurricular activities our children loved.”

“This gesture was an immense relief. It meant our kids could continue participating in activities that brought them joy and valuable life lessons. Playing on teams, interacting with coaches, and setting and achieving goals contributes to all children’s growth and resilience.”

“We take pride in this organization, knowing it will provide similar support to families navigating challenges like ours.”

“Our mission is to facilitate access to diverse extracurricular programs for children affected by parental incarceration. By fostering participation in these activities, we aim to provide a supportive environment where children can discover their talents, build resilience, and benefit from positive interactions with coaches and mentors. Our goal is to empower these children, offering opportunities for growth and a pathway to a more promising future.”

Marie recently shared her thoughts about the impact faced by families of J6 political prisoners.

The Pacific Northwest has been our home for the last 15 years.

I spent a little time at the beach today, taking in the cold breeze, with the warmth of the sun hitting my body. The ocean is such a peaceful place, and our home is situated within minutes of a couple of quiet beaches. These are places I go and just take in the world as it spins.

It’s sad for me to think about Taylor not saying goodbye to our little corner of the earth, our little heaven.

Our small town of around 3,000 people is situated across the Puget Sound from the busy city of Seattle. The downtown is quaint, with its small shops that are open at bizarre hours, interesting and unique places to eat, beautiful scenery, a farmer’s market for part of the year and a quiet and inviting marina. Elise works at a little French crepe shop at the corner of the main street that runs through downtown Kingston. If you go any further down the street you will end up on a boat, headed over to a much busier way of life, over to Seattle.

This time of year the Cherry Blossom trees start blooming. It’s probably my favorite time of the year, especially after a wet and dark winter. The Tulip Festival up in the Skagit Valley is a place we visit each spring. Lavender, rhododendrons and blackberries grow abundantly in our neck of the woods. It is truly an abundant, beautiful area.

***Please help Taylor and his family here.****

We will be moving soon. That is sad. This area has been good to us. It’s here our five children were born. Here that we have connected with community and friends, when both of our families were so far away. Here we lost one of our sweet little babies, who was born too many months early. We had planned a family trip to cruise from Florida to some of the islands in the Atlantic. While on the boat I had a Placental Abruption, which caused us to disembark, and I later gave birth to our sweet little Destin. He was born in beautiful Puerto Rico. He lived for a week, but we were never able to bring him home. It was in Kingston where Bensen fell from a window when he was three. After he fell, his eyes were not dilated and he was completely conscious and seemed to be fine. It was a paramedic that had come to our home, and felt uneasy about the height of the fall. He had a little boy the same age as Ben (and also named Ben). He said that if it was him, he would fly his son to Seattle, to get him checked out. Ben was flown on a helicopter to Harborview and that day would receive a life-saving brain surgery. His recommendation saved Ben’s life. I see that paramedic around town, and am always grateful for what he represents to us. It was here that we have homeschooled our five kids. Elise enrolled in the community college her last two years of high school and will get her Associates Degree soon. She has loved our community college. Here my kids have played on sports teams, had music lessons, concerts. We’ve been involved with homeschool groups that have become like family. I have taught high school History, Writing and Leadership classes to many of those kids. Taylor has coached sports teams and led scout troops. He has operated a few businesses and eventually found value in digging dirt and installing septic systems.

It doesn’t seem right to say goodbye to this place without Taylor.

What adventures await us and how long we have to wait to be reunited with him is unknown. A man came to the jail to present some pre-sentencing papers to Taylor. There was a section stating how many dependents he has. In that section the probation department wrote 0. He inquired about that, knowing he has 5 children and a wife. The man stated that Taylor didn’t have any dependents, since he was in jail. I wonder if that is how the court sees our family? I wonder if they want to even acknowledge that we exist? Maybe it’s easier for them that way. Who knows. It’s a merciless system and our kids miss their dad.

Sentencing is coming soon and the prosecution is asking for 9+ years. 9+ years for Taylor. I wonder how that could be. They say he obstructed congress and that he assaulted an officer. During the trial Taylor asked the two officers if he had “hurt, harmed, injured or threatened them in any way”. Both officers replied that he hadn’t. Taylor asked if they accepted his sincere and heartfelt apology for his role in the events that day. They accepted, one even saying, “it’s water under the bridge”.

It’s hard for me to imagine him in jail. Taylor has never spanked our kids, he’s always been loving and supportive to me as a wife and mother. He is a good person.

This is really hard.

Whatever may come, we are up for the adventure…even if it’s a difficult one!

***Please help Taylor and his family here.****

You can learn more about helping the children of prisoners at Left Behind and Without.

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