The Issue: Obstacles to Reintegration After Incarceration
On October 1, 2011, California enacted a law designed to reduce overcrowding and inadequate healthcare in prisons. Realignment, as the plan is known, will transfer many people to county facilities and return others to the community. Yet for those returning, limited support services exist to ease their transition. Formerly incarcerated people often have difficulty attaining work and housing, creating a cycle of recidivism as they return to crime to survive or cope.
The Campaign: Sending Women to a Sobriety Convention
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by A New Way of Life Reentry Project to help formerly incarcerated women commit to staying sober. For every $350 raised, the organization can send one woman and her children to a 12-step annual recovery convention at the JW Marriot Resort & Spa in Palm Desert. At the convention, women can meet other people in recovery from across the country, share tips and stories about staying sober, and participate in 12-step meetings. Since this is the first time many women and children will have taken a vacation together, they can also bond over clean, sober activities such as golf, karaoke, and dancing.
A New Way of Life Reentry Project
After Susan Burton’s 5-year-old son was accidentally hit and killed by a car, she numbed herself with drugs and alcohol. Over the next 20 years, she floated through the criminal-justice system, finding herself in and out of jail and without work or housing when she was free. Finally, in 1997, she gained permanent freedom and sobriety, but she chose not to let the lessons of those years fade into the past. Mobilized by her hardships, Susan began meeting women as they stepped off the prison bus. She brought them into her home and worked with them to rebuild their lives. Confronting the institutional barriers that denied employment, housing, and public assistance to formerly incarcerated women, Susan created a grassroots organization to halt these discriminatory practices. For her courage and efforts to break the cycle of incarceration, CNN named her one of its Top Ten Heroes of 2010.
Today, her organization, A New Way of Life Reentry Project (ANWOL), helps rehabilitate formerly incarcerated women through a multidimensional network of housing and support. Women self-identify goals that will help them reintegrate into the community and work to achieve them with help from support staff. They live in safe residential environments while performing chores, attending school and recovery meetings, and searching for employment. ANWOL also advocates for the legal and civil rights of all formerly incarcerated people and trains women how to represent themselves and other formerly incarcerated women through the Women Organizing for Justice leadership project.
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