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I Was … I Am, How to Move Beyond Your Past to Create an Extraordinary Life, by Allison ‘Tammy’ Moore, (Wilmington, Delaware, 2010, 338 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore


September 12, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) -- Allison ‘Tammy’ Moore has written what at times seems like a tragicomedy: I Was … I Am. In reality, it is her story of incarceration, and how she used the experience to become a better and stronger person.

After being released from prison and her subsequent parole, Moore and her husband started a prison ministry that has helped hundreds of women find their way. Her Ministry is part of the International Network of Prison Ministry (INPM). She has traveled the world telling her powerful story.

While in prison, she came to this conclusion.  “Instead of burying your head in the sand, write in it. Instead of trapping yourself in repetitive destruction, with God’s help, free yourself from the self imposed prison, change yourself and the world. It doesn’t matter that you messed up. I don’t know what your obstacles are, but I know that whatever they may be, God can use them.”

In her book, you will read her story; her journey back to God.

Prior to her incarceration, Moore writes of numerous failed relationships with a sordid cast of men, one in particular almost 10 years her junior. She writes that the relationship lasted off and on through fights with his “baby mamma,” two more baby mammas, drug charges, gun charges, and murder charges. “After helping him prove his innocence I thought sure that would be it,” Moore wrote. “Three abortions later, after showing up at a visit and being denied only to let the other girl in ….I still didn’t have enough.” She referred to this as love. This, on top of being put up for adoption as a child along with her other siblings, certainly could have contributed to the emotional scars that she bore. A counselor alluded to those scars during a subsequent sentencing phase for her incarceration.

Moore spent a few weeks in prison for a probation violation for having urine with opiates, although she indicates that it was a false reading. She writes separately of being accused of scamming people out of their money, and of facing a long prison sentence for some other banking con. She writes in her book of her earliest instances of stealing, this “addiction,” she likes to call it, stealing from her father and later from a retail store that she worked at. Some might call it pathological. Her sister was a partner in crime in the retail store thefts, and suffered the consequences of getting caught.

This book is a must-read for those who are behind bars or recently released and truly want to build their life back as a respectable and free member of society. It is a book of hope and encouragement. Moore writes in I was …I Am: “As I progressed in writing this book, I grew, I changed. As it happened, I recorded it. As God revealed it, he not only exposed the wounds; He cleansed them. He healed the hurts and allowed me to see things from His perspective and not my own. While confined in a prison cell, I was made free. Whether you are in a physical prison or a mental prison of your own design, you can change. There is nothing too hard for God. He did it for me and He will do it for you, you just have to believe.”

During the sentencing phase of Moore’s incarceration, she speculated that a counselor’s diagnosis of “theft addiction-no criminal intent stemming from emotional issues” would have been persuasive enough to keep her from going to prison. That was not to be the case. Moore is quite candid about an addiction that landed her in prison. She is even more graphic about her initial entry into prison, and her stay there, as she states; “I am listed as Inmate OL8397. Prison has been my home for six months now. I have seen things that I never would have imagined. I’ve seen straight girls being turned out, women who called themselves, look like and move like men. I’ve seen sex in the shower, in the yard and in the cell. I’ve watched women kiss passionately in corners, cry during separation and being handcuffed and escorted and taken to the RHU for fighting. I’ve heard more racial slurs, pick up lines and the F-word more than I can count. I’ve seen the greatest level of disrespect between officer and inmate, women being treated like trash, talked to like a child, called skanks and crack heads and I’ve seen some totally ignored.” She has written a sobering account of life in prison, but more importantly, her spiritual transformation as a result of it.

Moore indicates in her book that she is better off as a result of her time in prison. “I am more sympathetic and compassionate toward others. From where I sit, it is more difficult to judge. I am sitting at a table with those who have seen the unimaginable, witnessed the indescribable, and committed crimes unthinkable. I am where we are all the same. (writing from prison). Funny … that’s the way God sees us. His eyes are like these eyes. I am no different from Karen who killed her husband … Melanie who buried her baby alive … Amy who molested a young boy … Juanita who has 25 counts of prostitution … Maryanne who robbed a bank with her husband … Tonya who set her lover’s apartment building on fire,” she concluded. “I am compassionate for those who are sentenced to life, 20 to 30 years, 10 to 20 years, 5 to 10 years, 2 to 4 years and 1 to 2 years. I am more understanding of those who leave and violate and come right back.”

Moore questions her early relationship with God. “As a little girl, I did not think that God was fair. I mean, he took my Mommy and Daddy when I needed them the most. I believed he answered prayers but that was a scary thing to me. I watched Mommy ask God to take away the pain… He did, I felt like he gave it to me.”

As she grew older, she went to church because she was expected to do so, reciting rehearsed prayers she had been taught. “ I watched people fall out and call on Jesus and it frightened me. I listened to what the Pastor said because he was closer to God than me. I believed he knew the Bible and I didn’t,” she recalled. “God wasn’t fair. In my opinion, he only helped when the pain was so bad, and there was absolutely no other way out. Deep down, I think I anticipated trudging through hell before God would help me into heaven…. I did not know him as a God of love, peace and protection. I knew him as selfish, partial, and one who inflicted retributive suffering according to his attitude.”

It took prison for the author’s viewpoint to change. I highly recommend her book.

Dennis Moore is a member of the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild. He has written for LifeAfter50 Magazine in Pasadena, California, and the Baja Times newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. He is also the President of Bethel Memorial A.M.E. Prison Ministry in San Diego, California. He can be contacted at or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.


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Allison Moore's worldwind tour and book signing in San Diego

Allison Moore will bring her message of hope and redemption to San Diego on December 12th through the 15th, where a number of events are planned for her. There is a tentative agreement and arrangement for her to speak to the female inmates of the Los Colinas women's facility, just prior to her making a presentation and book signing before the Bethel A.M.E. Prison Ministry at the Tubman/Chavez Center.

San Diego County Urban League

The San Diego County Urban League will host a reception for Allison Moore, prior to her presentation and book signing at the Bethel A.M.E. Prison Ministry meeting in December.

Visiting SanDiego December 12-15!!!

I am pleased to announce my upcoming visit to the SanDiego area. I hope to share my experience with being incarcerated, as well as my own method of recovery as outlined in my book "I Was I Am:How To Move Beyond Your Past To Create An Extraordinary Life". It is my desire to shed light on the perils of re-entry, specifically regarding the female ex-offender. I believe the traditional methods, which are mostly modeled after the male offender, are not as effective, because of the specific needs of the woman being different from that of a man. I hope to compel all those involved in the prison system, post and pre sentencing; to consider new ways of redcucing recidivism and developing alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders. If we heal a woman-we change the course of a family. If we change the course of a family- we create change in our community. If we create change in our communities-we can eventualy change the cities, the states, and the nation! It is my desire to be the catalyst for change on this matter. Thank you Dennis for the opportunity. I want to invite you to join me at the Reentry Roundtable on Tuesday December 14th 2010 . I would also love to share my story with women at a local correctional facility, participate in a book signing, and any other way I can make the most of my visit in "Americas Finest City". Feel free to contact me.

Continued Blessings,
Allison Moore

Allison Moore's "I Was...I Am"

I, too, am excited about Allison Moore coming to San Diego in December, to make a presentation and book signing at the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Bethel Memorial A.M.E. Prison Ministry. As a matter of fact, I made that announcement last night at our meeting at the Tubman/Chavez Center. The San Diego County Urban League has expressed an interest in hosting a reception for Allison while she is here, as here book relates to a Reentry Program for women that they are involved in.

San Diego County District Attorney's Office Reentry Roundtable

As I am a member of the San Diego County District Attorney's Office Reentry Roundtable, at our regularly scheduled meeting yesterday in the Hall of Justice (HOJ), a number of members favorably commented to me on my review of the book, which had earlier been distributed online to other members. It is interesting to note, that at this meeting another related discussion of a book; "The New Jim Crow," and an upcoming event in San Diego with the author, was made. The author of the book, Michelle Alexander, touches on some of the same issues in her book that Allison "Tammy" Moore alludes to in her book. I plan on writing a book review of "The New Jim Crow," so look out for it.

"The New Jim Crow"

Found out today from the President/CEO of UAAMAC that I will be afforded the opportunity to interview Michelle Alexander, the author of "The New Jim Crow," prior to a reception for her this Friday at the Jacobs Center, as I plan on writing a review of her book.

I was...I am review

Great review Dennis! Gives you a real sense of the pain and hurt all throughout her life and how God's grace and mercy are truly at work in her life! God Bless...ri

I was...I am review

I agree! Dennis did an awesome job. I am grateful that others are able to see the true message. Grace and Mercy revealed through the hurt and pain. Not only for inmates but to heal any hurt, habit or hangup....God is available.

About "Tammy"'s new book

" I watched Mommy ask God to take away the pain… He did, I felt like he gave it to me.”
I had tears in my eyes when I read this sentence...
This is a great review on "Tammy"'s inspirational book.
"I Was...I Am" is a very interesting write. Dennis Moore's review analyzes in detail a true story of final success. Life is a struggle and what does not kill you makes you stronger - is the ultimate lesson of this book. I belong to a poetry website and one of the poets is incarcerated. He told us that only God and writing poetry keeps him sane in that place. Congratulations, "Tammy" Moore on publishing your true story and sharing it with us.

"Tammys" new book

Dennis' detailed review has portrayed the book in a way that allows others to get a glimpse of my life and how I grew stronger from the negative experiences. I am sure that the incarcerated poet is truly free by having God and writing poetry. Writing is healing. Thank you for the opportunity to share.

I Was … I Am- Very Inspiring topic & Great Review

Thank you Dennis for the great review. I will be purchasing this book as it will give me a very different perspective on the formerly incarcerated (a woman's lived experience). In my line of work I often encounter mostly males who have dealings with the criminal justice system.

Congratulations to Ms. Moore on achieving her personal freedom along with her physical freedom. Anita

Very Inspiring

Thank you for the well wishes. Dennis wrote an awesome review. I am sure you will see a very unique perspective from the female point of view. Overall it is my goal to address the issues and needs of female offenders, as they truly are not the same as the needs of men. Criminal justice reform must include gender specific solutions. I am enjoying physical and personal freedom and want others to experience the same. My book is available through my website for a signed copy and on

Allison "Tammy" Moore

My exact sentiments, very inspiring, this book of redemption, by Allison "Tammy" Moore. After sharing the message from this book with friends and members of my Church Prison Ministry, they indicated a desire to purchase the book, and/or have "Tammy" make a presentation and book signing at our regularly scheduled Prison Ministry meeting at the Tubman/Chavez Center in San Diego. It was a pleasure and an honor for me to write the review to this book, and to get to know in a small way, Allison "Tammy" Moore.


I believe only the spirit of God inspired Allison Tammy Moore to reveal such truths about her past. By sharing her trials and tribulations with others can help prevent them from choosing the same path. Many people get what is called "jail house religion" when they are in prison. But this young woman took her experiences and turn them into something good on the outside. I've read a similiar book, "The Fox That Got Away"~by Fox Rich and the stories that you two ladies tell about tragedy and triumph in your lives should be applauded. Sheila L. Jackson, author of "The Enemy Within," and "Through The Eyes Of God.",,

Inspired by The Spirit of God

I was truly inspired by the spirit of God. The process of writing the book and telling the TRUTH about my past has not only liberated me but has freed my entire family. You are right. No jailhouse religion of faith and trust in Gods plan and purpose produced lasting change for me; and the heartfelt desire to help others become free...not just from physical prison but from the self imposed prison of limitations. Thank you for the wonderful comment! I pray our paths cause us to meet in the near future.

"Through the Eyes of God"

Very insightful comments from author Sheila Jackson, who has indicated that she is mailing me her book, "Through the Eyes of God," in hopes that I will write a similar-such review as I did of Allison "Tammy" Moore's book. Allison Moore had earlier expressed an interest of coming to San Diego to read from her book to the inmates of RJ Donovan Prison, and to make a presentation/book signing before the Bethel A.M.E. Prison Ministry. I hope to also afford her an opportunity to make a brief presentation before the San Diego County District Attorney's Office Reentry Roundtable.


What a moving testimony as presented only in part in this review. This book is a must read. As a person who has written fiction set in prison, I am particularly interested in the genuine journey in I WAS...I AM. Once again, Dennis Moore presents another important book to the public eye!