Our ‘inside’ women-writers detail their crimes from time to time. I’ve heard (deeply regretted) stories of dealing drugs, driving get-a-way cars, and theft of every sort. What the majority of the stories have in common is a dysfunctional male-female relationship at the center. Not to make excuses, but many of these women are engaged in abusive/dysfunctional relationships that mirror the disastrous relationships they witnessed as children or were victimized by. They commit crimes to maintain relationships or to support their children.
Last week, the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women issued its latest report Ten Truths That Matter When Working with Justice Involved Women. There at #3 was “women’s engagement in criminal behavior is often related to their relationships, connections, and disconnections with others.” (It’s always heartening when one’s on-the-ground experience syncs up with the latest research data!)
Women are relational beings; relationships shape identity and add to positive self-worth. ..which is why writinginsideVT is such a life-giving endeavor for these 140-odd women residing at Chittenden Correctional Facility. They are encouraged to create healthy, respectful relationships in the context of our writing circles. We model deep listening, equality within the circle, and the value of personal voice, assuming that each woman is doing her very best. Whew..a kind of space we all need in daily life, right?!