I found myself conversing with nine young women prisoners this week–all under age 22. My aim was to inquire about their own sense of their needs related to education, work and job when they get out.
Where are you from? I asked glancing around the circle.
Rutland, St. Johnsbury, Newport, Middlebury, Bennington, Barre, Manchester, N.H., they responded.
What kinds of jobs are you interested in? I continued.
Firefighter, cook, auto-mechanic, solider, therapist, business manager, childcare worker, owner of a tattoo and piercing studio, an advocate for women’s rights …
What a creative group of women with high aspirations, I thought to myself.
How many of you feel that an unhealthy network of family and friends was instrumental in your landing here? I asked.
All nine hands shot up in the air.
Really? I pushed back. EVERY ONE of your friends and family?
Yup, they chimed in, and we have to go back to the same town we came from, living around the same negative people.
One chestnut-haired 22-year-old continued:
… a place where everybody knows my name, my crime, that I’m an addict with mental health problems, living in the only halfway house in town–where everybody thinks I’m nothin.
(To be continued…)