Friday, May 2, 2008

What is the difference between Jail & Prison?

Although the terms “jail” and “prison” are sometimes used interchangeably, most members of law enforcement distinguish between the two. Primarily, the difference is that a jail is used by local jurisdictions such as counties and cities to confine people for short periods of time. A prison, or penitentiary, is administered by the state, and is used to house convicted criminals for periods of much longer duration. Both are part of a larger penal system which includes other aspects of criminal justice such as courts, law enforcement, and crime labs.

Because a jail is designed for short time periods only, it tends to have less amenities than a prison. Individuals who are being housed in a jail have access to bathrooms and are provided with food and water, and in a low security jail, they may be able to socialize in common areas during certain periods of the day. Most jails are designed to hold a very small number of criminals, and have relatively lax security when compared to prisons, although in areas prone to violence, a jail may be run along very strict lines. A jail houses people who have been convicted to serve a short sentence, individuals awaiting trial, people who have not yet paid bail, and criminals who have just been picked up on suspicion of committing a crime. The criminals are processed through a booking procedure, and the criminal justice system decides what to do with them after that.

In a prison, the amenities are much more extensive, as some prisoners may be serving their lives behind bars. Prisons have exercise areas, common areas for eating and socializing in lower security areas, church facilities, and an educational facility which includes classrooms, libraries, and labs to work and study in. In lower security prisons such as those used to imprison people convicted of whit collar crimes, the prison could sometimes be mistaken for a hotel. In most cases, prison inmates are expected to share cells with other inmates, and because of the long duration of most prison sentences, a complex social and political structure arises among the prisoners.

A prison is capable of handling far more prisoners than a jail is, and the prisoners are typically segregated on the basis of the types of crimes that they have been convicted of, as a safety precaution. In addition, in countries which still have capital punishment, a prison maintains facilities to carry out capital sentences, along with housing for criminals sentenced to this type of punishment. In general, the prison facility as a whole is very tightly secured, even if not all the criminals inside are violent, to prevent escapes or potential violence between wings of the prison. Prison staff are specially trained to work in a prison environment, and a board of governors appointed by the state oversees prison management.

Some Facts

1. The most serious offense for 65% of women in federal prisons and 29.1% of women in state prisons is violation of drug laws.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2003 (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Oct. 2005), p. 108, Table 7.10; Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2005 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Nov. 2006), p. 9, Table 13.

2. The number of women incarcerated in prisons and jails in the USA is approximately 10 times more than the number of women incarcerated in Western European countries, even though Western Europe's combined female population is about the same size as that of the USA.

Source: Amnesty International, "Not Part of My Sentence: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody" (Washington, DC: Amnesty International, March 1999), p. 15.

3. "During 2005 the number of females under the jurisdiction of State or Federal prison authorities increased by 2.6% (table 5). The number of males in prison rose 1.9%. At yearend 2005, 107,518 females and 1,418,406 males were in prison. Since 1995 the annual rate of growth in female prisoners averaged 4.6%, which was higher than the 3.0% increase in male prisoners. By yearend 2005 females accounted for 7.0% of all prisoners, up from 6.1% in 1995 and 5.7% in 1990."

Source: Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2005 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Nov. 2006), p. 4.

4. "Since 1995 the total number of male prisoners has grown 34%; the number of female prisoners, 57%. At yearend 2005, 1 in every 1,538 women and 1 in every 108 men were incarcerated in a State or Federal prison."

Source: Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2005 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Nov. 2006), p. 4.

5. "Relative to their number in the U.S. resident population, males were over 14 times more likely than females to be incarcerated in a State or Federal prison. At yearend 2005 there were 65 sentenced female inmates per 100,000 females in the resident population, compared to 929 sentenced male inmates per 100,000 males."

Source: Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2005 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Nov. 2006), p. 4.

6. "Female incarceration rates, though substantially lower than male incarceration rates at every age, reveal similar racial and ethnic differences. Black females (with an incarceration rate of 156 per 100,000) were more than twice as likely as Hispanic females (76 per 100,000) and over 3 times more likely than white females (45 per 100,000) to have been in prison on December 31, 2005. These differences among white, black, and Hispanic females were consistent across all age groups."

Source: Harrison, Paige M. & Allen J. Beck, PhD, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2005 (Washington DC: US Department of Justice, Nov. 2006), p. 8.

7. Women are the fastest growing and least violent segment of prison and jail populations. 85.1% of female jail inmates are behind bars for nonviolent offenses.

Source: John Irwin, Ph. D., Vincent Schiraldi, and Jason Ziedenberg, America's One Million Nonviolent Prisoners (Washington, DC: Justice Policy Institute, March 1999), pgs. 6-7.

8. From 1986 (the year mandatory sentencing was enacted) to 1996, the number of women sentenced to state prison for drug crimes increased ten fold (from around 2,370 to 23,700) and has been the main element in the overall increase in the imprisonment of women.

Source: Amnesty International, "Not Part of My Sentence: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody" (Washington, DC: Amnesty International, March 1999), p. 26.

9. From 1985 to 1996, female drug arrests increased by 95%, while male drug arrests increased by 55.1%.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports 1985 (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1986), p. 181, Table 37; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1997 Uniform Crime Report (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1998), p. 231, Table 42.

10. In 2005, there were a reported 2,472,303 arrests of women, of which 259,362 (9.46%) were for drug offenses. (Note: This represents a portion of the total estimated arrests in 2005, covering 10,974 agencies comprising a total population of 217,722,329 Americans.)

Source: Crime in the United States 2005, Uniform Crime Reports Washington, DC: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oct. 2006), Table 40, from the web at

11. Between 1990 and 1996, the number of women convicted of drug felonies increased by 37% (from 43,000 in 1990 to 59,536 in 1996). The number of convictions for simple possession increased 41% over that period, from 18,438 in 1990 to 26,022 in 1996.

Source: Greenfield, Lawrence A., and Snell, Tracy L., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Women Offenders (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 1999), p. 5, Table 11.

12. In 1997 a US Justice Department investigation of women's prisons in Arizona concluded that the authorities failed to protect women from sexual misconduct by correctional officers and other staff. The misconduct included rape, sexual relationships, sexual touching and fondling, and "without good reason, frequent, prolonged, close-up and prurient viewing during dressing, showing and use of toilet facilities." (CIV97-476, US District of Arizona).

Source: Amnesty International, "Not Part of My Sentence: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody" (Washington, DC: Amnesty International (March 1999), p. 39.

13. Retaliation for reports of abuse impedes women's access to protection of their human rights. One woman who won a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons for sexual abuse reported that she was beaten, raped and sodomized by three men who in the course of the attack told her that they were attacking her in retaliation for providing a statement to investigators.

Source: Amnesty International, "Not Part of My Sentence: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody" (Washington, DC: Amnesty International, March 1999), p. 59.

14. Sick and pregnant women are routinely shackled during hospitalization and childbirth if they are inmates of prisons or jails in the USA.

Source: Amnesty International, "Not Part of My Sentence: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody" (Washington, DC: Amnesty International, March 1999), p. 63.

15. Approximately 516,200 women on probation (72% of the total), 44,700 women in local jails (70% of the total), 49,200 women in State prisons (65% of the total), and 5,400 women in Federal prisons (59% of the total) have minor children.

Source: Greenfield, Lawrence A., and Snell, Tracy L., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Women Offenders (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 1999), p. 7, Table 17.

16. "Of the Nation's 72.3 million minor children in 1999, 2.1% had a parent in State or Federal prison. Black children (7.0%) were nearly 9 times more likely to have a parent in prison than white children (0.8%). Hispanic children (2.6%) were 3 times as likely as white children to have an inmate parent."

Source: Mumola, Christopher J., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, August 2000), p. 2.

17. In 1997 an estimated 2.8% of all children under age 18 had at least one parent in a local jail or a State or Federal prison. About 1 in 359 children have an incarcerated mother - for a total of 194,504 children with their mothers behind bars.

Source: Greenfield, Lawrence A., and Snell, Tracy L., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Women Offenders (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 1999), pp. 7-8, Tables 17 and 18.

18. Forty-four percent of women under correctional authority, including 57% of the women in State prisons, reported that they were physically or sexually abused at some point in their lives. Sixty-nine percent of women reporting an assault said that it had occurred before age 18.

Source: Greenfield, Lawrence A., and Snell, Tracy L., Bureau of Justice Statistics, Women Offenders (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, December 1999), p. 8, Table 20.

19. Many women in prisons and jails in the USA are victims of sexual abuse by staff, including male staff touching inmates' breasts and genitals when conducting searches; male staff watching inmates while they are naked; and rape.

Source: Amnesty International, "Not Part of My Sentence: Violations of the Human Rights of Women in Custody" (Washington, DC: Amnesty International, March 1999), p. 38.

20. "Of the 13,573 treatment facilities that responded to the 2000 N-SSATS (National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services), 60 percent reported that they provided at least one of the special programs or services for women. Almost one third of the facilities (33 percent) provided one program or service, 17 percent of the facilities provided two programs or services, 8 percent of the facilities provided three, and 3 percent provided four programs or services (data not shown). Of the facilities providing programs or services for women, 63 percent reported providing programs for women only, 56 percent reported services addressing domestic violence, 34 percent provided programs for pregnant or postpartum women, and 16 percent offered on-site child care services."

Source: "Facilities Offering Special Programs or Services for Women," The Dasis Report (Washington, DC: Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, Oct. 11, 2002), pp. 1-2.

21. "Facilities offering special programs or services for women were more likely to provide a variety of treatment services than facilities that did not offer such programs or services (Figure 1). These included transitional employment (with the largest difference, 42 percent vs. 25 percent), relapse prevention (83 percent vs. 67 percent), transportation assistance (42 percent vs. 26 percent), family counseling (83 percent vs. 69 percent), and pharmacotherapies (46 percent vs. 36 percent). Some 97 percent of facilities with women's programs or services offered individual therapy compared with 91 percent of facilities without special women's programs or services. In addition, 91 percent of facilities with women's programs or services offered group therapy compared with 84 percent of the other facilities."

Source: "Facilities Offering Special Programs or Services for Women," The Dasis Report (Washington, DC: Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, Oct. 11, 2002), p. 2.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

U.S. Shifting Prison Focus to Re-entry Into Society

April 8, 2008
U.S. Shifting Prison Focus to Re-entry Into Society

Back in the 1970s and '80s, high crime and "get tough" laws meant longer sentences and more emphasis on punishment than on rehabilitation, and the federal and state governments spent billions building prisons.
Today, as a legacy of those policies, not only are record numbers incarcerated, but also about 700,000 state and federal prisoners are released annually, many of them with little education or employment prospects and destined to be imprisoned again within a few years.
In a sharp change in attitudes about incarceration, many states and private groups have recently experimented with "re-entry" programs to help released prisoners fit back into their communities and avoid new crime.
The strategy will get a major boost this week. President Bush is to sign the Second Chance Act in a public ceremony on Wednesday, making rehabilitation a central goal of the federal justice system. In a sign of how far the pendulum has swung, the measure passed Congress with nearly unanimous bipartisan support.
With the new law, the federal government is to provide more money and leadership in a field where progress is likely to be difficult at best, experts agree.
"From our perspective, this is a huge development," said Michael Thompson, director of the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments. "Governors, legislatures, corrections and law enforcement agencies around the country were all very supportive of the act."
The new push to help prisoners reintegrate into society has been driven in part by financial concerns: states cannot afford to keep building more prisons. It also reflects concern for the victims of repeat offenders and for the wasted lives of the offenders themselves, who are disproportionately black and from neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.
The act authorizes $165 million in spending per year, including matching grants to state and local governments and nongovernmental groups to experiment with efforts like more schooling and drug treatment inside prison and aid with housing, employment and the building of family and community ties after release.
It also directs the Justice Department to step up research on re-entry issues and establishes a national Reentry Resource Center to promote successful approaches and provide training.
"This act represents a major change in crime policy," said Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who as a Justice Department official in the Clinton administration and the author of "But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry" (Urban Institute Press, 2005) helped promote the shift.
Over the last decade, the re-entry cause has been embraced by an unusually wide range of groups and individuals, including evangelical Christians and liberal activists. Mr. Bush called for such a law in 2004 and in Congress, key sponsors included Senator Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican from Kansas, and Representative Danny K. Davis, a liberal Democrat from Illinois.
"It's been a bipartisan coalition," Mr. Travis said, "the sort of thing that doesn't happen in Washington these days."

Friday, March 28, 2008

If you had the opportunity to speak to a group of young girls, what would you want to talk to them about?

If I had the opportunity to talk to a group of younger girls, I would tell them several things. First, I would talk to them about putting themselves first and that they should not worry about other people. I would like to talk to them about boyfriends and explain that they do not need a boyfriend or partner in their lives to fulfill their needs. Also, going through a through a rebellious/"party" time to have fun is not necessary and does not make you COOL. None of it is worth it. Everything I just listed makes life harder than it has to be. I would tell them that they need to work at having good relationships with their families and if there is something that is going on in their family or amongst their friends that need attention or they need help with then they need to communicate that and work towards resolving it. When things are not resolved, more problems arise. I would tell them that the kids they go to high school with probably will not even be their immediate friends or in their lives for a long period of time, some may be but others may not and the problems they are having in high school are so minor compared to the problems they'll be having in college and their young adult lives. I’d like to explain how important it is to look out for themself, that if anyone asks or tells you to do something they need to think of the consequences before you do it. Life is not worth using the "stinkin thinkin" mode (stupid thinking). To listen to their parent’s advice, they KNOW what they are talking about! Even though it sucks to admit, its really true. I am only 21 right now and have been through a lot more than most of my friends and acquaintances have been through and none of it...I mean NONE of it was worth it! I wish I would have stayed in college and worried more about myself, because I would not be in the situation that I am now. I would give young girls good insight, just by being close to their age and being able to relate a lot to what they have going on and have advice to give them from someone who's closer in age. Younger people tend to listen to people more their age. Therefore, I think that I would be a good person for someone to come and talk with. Since I love to help people I think that I would really love helping them and listening to them. –age 21

If I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of young girls, I would express to them the importance of staying drug free and conviction free. I would express to them how drugs take away all your hopes and dreams of becoming successful. I would start by telling them know how my life as a young girl started in the military, which led me to use drugs and making bad decisions, which resulted in incarceration. I would express to them that it's never to late to turn your life around - no matter how many bad decisions you’ve made. Overall, try your best not to make any bad decision that result in hurting yourself or your love ones. –age 32

I would want to tell them how important it is to get a good education, that sex and relationships can wait. I would share some of my personal experiences with about drugs, addiction and being in jail. I would also be open for questions and would try to be as honest as possible. –age 34

Given the opportunity to speak with young girls, I would like to talk about other addictions that are not drug related, such as money addiction. People do not realize that spending money on clothes and other material items can be just as addictive as drugs. They need to understand that needing and wanting a material item is not always the best choice. Personally, I understand the feeling of wanting something at that moment, but until you work for that item, you never really appreciate it for its full value. I would say that Money Addictions are very real and that there are many people with the same problems and they are not alone. To get Therapy and to find out how to re-train you mind into not getting the money for a expensive item, until you have worked for it. –age 36

I had to talk to young kids, (4th-5th graders), at the jail several times. I tried to tell them not to try drugs or alcohol because they can ruin or sidetrack your life, but I am not sure if I got through to them. During the question/answer period, they asked us questions such as:
How big are your cells?
How much TV can you watch?
What is the food like?
Can you have cell phones?
I tried to make it sound as bad as it was while my male counterpart said it was the best jail he had ever been in, lots of TV and other sorts of examples. –age 45

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Outside-The-Box Sentencing - Pa. judge sentences 3 to learn English

Thu Mar 27, 2:16 PM ET

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - A judge known for creative sentencing has ordered three Spanish-speaking men to learn English or go to jail.

The men, who faced prison for criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, can remain on parole if they learn to read and write English, earn their GEDs and get full-time jobs, Luzerne County Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. said.
The men, Luis Reyes, Ricardo Dominguez and Rafael Guzman-Mateo, plus a fourth defendant, Kelvin Reyes-Rosario, all needed translators when they pleaded guilty Tuesday.
"Do you think we are going to supply you with a translator all of your life?" the judge asked them.
The four, ranging in age from 17 to 22, were in a group that police said accosted two men on a street in May. The two said they were asked if they had marijuana, told to empty their pockets, struck on the head, threatened with a gun and told to stay off the block.
Attorneys for the men said they were studying the legality of the ruling and had not decided whether to appeal. One of the attorneys, Ferris Webby, suggested that the ruling was good for his client, Guzman-Mateo.
"My client is happy," Webby said. "I think it's going to help him."
The judge sentenced the four men to jail terms of four to 24 months. But he gave the three men, who already had served at least four months, immediate parole. Reyes-Rosario remains imprisoned on an unrelated drug charge.
Olszewski ordered the three to return with their parole officers in a year and take an English test. "If they don't pass, they're going in for the 24 (months)," he said.
Olszewski is known for outside-the-box sentencing.
He has ordered young defendants who are school dropouts to finish school. He often orders defendants to get full-time employment. But he also has his staff coordinate with an employment agency to help them find the jobs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Given the opportunity to speak with someone who was developing new programs where you were incarcerated, what would you suggest?

I participated in a program called A.C.T. - Addiction Corrections & Treatment. It was very good and seemed to be helpful to the other women who were motivated towards recovery.

It would be great if they had programs that teach skills, but I know that costs money. I would suggest trying to attract large businesses that are outsourcing jobs to other countries, jobs such as customer service. The companies might have to provide some training, but if the labor was cheap, it could provide a win-win situation for all. In turn, the women would have skills and experience when they left. It would be interesting to compare the pay rates of what women make in prison to the pay rates of international outsourcing.

What I saw in jail, (I was not in prison and have no idea of the programs offered there), was that the women had no skill sets to provide them with decent jobs on the outside which would allow them to provide for themselves and their children. Therefore, they went back to lives of crime, drug use and depending on the government (such as welfare). Giving someone the opportunity to learn the ability to be able to take care of oneself and give oneself a better standard of living than welfare would benefit the whole country.

I would also suggest giving inmates access to the Internet and phones in the last couple of months of incarceration. It could possibly help people to set up jobs before they get out. Jail or prison could be a positive experience for people and communities at large. If changes in programs occur, it may reduce the revolving door syndrome, thus benefiting the taxpayers and the productivity of the country. -age 46

In the last six months of a woman’s incarceration, there should be a interaction program for mothers and children. It would give them the opportunity to work with a therapist assisting in the readjustment. It would let all parties talk about the changes, feelings and concerns that are about to occur. I would also suggest more living arrangements and pre-release planning. Many women who are coming out of incarceration do not have anywhere to live upon release. There are far TOO FEW halfway houses and programs for women. –age 45

I would develop a more intense program that allows mother's and father's to communicate with their children and physically see them and spend time with them. I did not get to see or verbally communicate with my children while I was locked up. I feel like there really should be a program were they can see you or we can go see them at least once a month. -age 36

I would suggest a program geared toward reuniting women with their children. I would suggest something like letting the women make videos of themselves talking directly to their children about some of the things they really want to say. For example, they might explain their past (drug history, drug addiction, child abuse, molestation etc.). I find this effective because I did this in my first support group in 1999. This allowed me to explain to my children about my addiction along with other health issues I was experiencing at the time. The tape was then placed in a safe and I was allowed to show my kids at the appropriate times. It worked out wonderfully and today I have a beautiful relationship with each of them. In addition, they did not have to hear anything about me second hand, because if they did they would have ready knew. -age 35

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What is the greatest misconception that you think someone might have about women who are incarcerated?

That we are hopeless and bad people, especially the mothers who are in jail or prison.
It is hard for people to understand we are just as susceptible to addiction and misfortune as men. So there for we are looked down upon and judged worse for the same things.
-age 46

That I do not love or care about my children and that I was a bad, neglectful mother. If a female inmate is married, the public might think that she doesn't care about your husband either. That women are violent. For example, I was locked up with a lady whose husband started beating her when he discovered crack. When she reached out to the police and social service organizations they advised her to take him to mental health. Eventually, his addiction became worst and he became more violent. One evening, it took a turn for the worst and she was charged with a violent crime in the midst of her self-defense. -age 35

That they are bad people. –age 45

I feel the public thinks we are still the same as we were when we committed our crime or crime(s). There are so many barriers that an ex-offender faces every day of there lives and there are days and moments when everything can so hard and frustrating. I am learning that as long as you remain positive in prayer and true to yourself you can succeed in all you do. I know that saying this is easier then living it everyday. However, we all have our own struggles, but it can be even more difficult for an ex-offender. Time can heal and change people. – age36

I feel the biggest misconception is that women who have spent time being incarcerated will continue to make bad choices. I am living proof that women do change, no matter what. Today I have choices. –age 32

Women are not supposed to make mistakes, and put themselves in situations that would cause them to go to jail. –age 47

Monday, March 3, 2008

1 of every 100 U.S. adults behind bars, report says

NEW YORK (AP) -- For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.
Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 -- one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.
The steadily growing inmate population "is saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime," the report said.
Susan Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States, said budget woes are prompting officials in many states to consider new, cost-saving corrections policies that might have been shunned in the recent past for fear of appearing soft in crime.
"We're seeing more and more states being creative because of tight budgets," she said in an interview. "They want to be tough on crime, they want to be a law-and-order state -- but they also want to save money, and they want to be effective."
The report cited Kansas and Texas as states which have acted decisively to slow the growth of their inmate population. Their actions include greater use of community supervision for low-risk offenders and employing sanctions other than reimprisonment for ex-offenders who commit technical violations of parole and probation rules.
"The new approach, born of bipartisan leadership, is allowing the two states to ensure they have enough prison beds for violent offenders while helping less dangerous lawbreakers become productive, taxpaying citizens," the report said.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What are some of the challenges that face women readjusting to life after being incarcerated ?

The things I have readjusted to are living life period, with a sober mind. Also, dealing with problems as they come in an adult manner without getting angry, because I do not have a solution or that things are not going to go my way. It all depends on what I want out of this life, the one I have left. Today, right now, I want something more then I have settled for in my past and I see that it is going to take work; physically, with a job and mentally to deal with situations as they arise. To act or handle things differently than I have in the past, which takes lots of thought for me because I am used to doing the first thing that comes to mind and today I realize I have choices. I do not do anything without running it pass another person who I trust and whose judgment I value. This helps keep me safe. Last, but not least, I would say spiritually I must keep my GOD first, without his guidance and strength there would be no me or the positive people he has placed in my life everyday. This is truly a test to see what I want in life. Once I pass one test, he will give me more in my life. Everyday is a learning experience, also a challenge for me.
Now I have yet another obstacle in my life to deal with. My ex-husband is trying to play games with my daughter's mind. He tells her that he has grown attached to her and that he does not want her to leave him. I did not see this coming. It is terrible because I love her with each breath I take. Am I going fall and crumble the way he wants so he can keep her? Or do I stand in the midst of my trials? We have joint custody, so in the end it is up to her. He thought I would have failed by now and this would never be an issue for him, but I am not failing. I believe it is unfortunate that he wants to see me fall down, all these years I thought he really cared. This makes me want to push myself even more, so I can see what I’m really made of. I am enjoying this ride. Each day changes, but one thing that remains forever non-changing is my FAITH and knowing that there are good things ahead for me. They say trouble never last anyways and I try to hold that close to my heart. They say we have to start at the bottom and today I am willing to do just that for a better tomorrow. That is all I ask for, a better tomorrow. I hope these words of encouragement help touch another woman's life out there. Thank you for the opportunity to allow me to lift another up. -age 39

The most challenging thing is to get a job. It may not be as hard as it seems, but I find myself afraid of the questions the employers may ask. I have only worked 2 jobs in my 35 years, and the both were in the jails. I'm not afraid of work, but I wish a job would fall right into my hands(lol). Each day I pray for strength and courage, so I know i will be O.K -age 35

Acceptance for how your family truly feels. We hurt our family's more than we realize by going to jail, so when we are released they are going to go through a lot of emotions that we want fix. But, only time and are actions of improvement can do so. Also, forgiveness for ourselves. We tend to hold on to what we have done which really hinders our progress which can lead to empty promises. -age 46

Mainly the most challenges I have faced are in obtaining employment. It is never easy getting a new job when so many people with either better or less qualified then you. But when you add a felony on top of that you get a very negative response. It seems that people are not always open to a person's mistakes. Everyone make errors in there life, but if is extremely hard for a ex-offender to obtain employment. As long a we try and continue to give all we can, we end up getting rewarded for our struggles. It is never easy to get out of prison or jail and start new. It takes time. I can only say that people need to start realizing ex-offenders should be given every opportunity that a non-offender receives. And we need more individual financial help. A lot of women and men getting out of prison don't have money to afford a bus token. We need more available resource for small things too. -age 36

I face challenges everyday either big or small. The most challenge for me is obtaining a Dental position. I was let down with my first working interview job. Truly speaking, it has made me stronger. I push even harder today. It's easy for me to do wrong, some times it's uncomfortable to do what's right. I make it a daily challenge to be where I am suppose to be and not where I don't want to be. For me, living itself is an everyday challenge. A challenge that I will get through successfully, with GOD as my leader. -age 32

I think finding a job with the negative aspect of having a big hole in your resume when you were incarcerated is my biggest challenge. Also, it seems most women have no where to go but back to where they got in trouble in the first place. Having a safe place to start over with supported people is hard to come by. My problem is alcohol. I went to jail for a 3rd DUI. So for folks with addiction problems, people, places and things are big deterrents to starting a good life and if you don't have somewhere to go away from these things that are not positive, well I think your chances for recovery are greatly diminished. -age 45