children bearing children

Credit: harrisonstainlesssteelrat

One of the pathways to crime and eventual incarceration for women includes growing up in a family that has been impoverished for generations.

It’s not surprising that as the woman’s teen years approach, she experiences a deep desire to leave this environment, particularly if it has been chaotic or dysfunctional.

Then as so many ‘inside’ women write about, along comes “baby” a short time later, providing a great blessing to her, but also a supreme financial burden for a young mother with an incomplete education, undeveloped job skills, and a fractured family system.

Here’s a piece scribed by CS this week that details this pattern:

In nine months my adult self would be born…

When born, you cannot determine
how you will be raised.
For me, it was within a carnival scene,
so alive and adventurous,
it would leave you amazed.

I had to grow up fast till the age of 16.
I left my home a long time ago,
tears running down my face as I ran out the door,
and all I wanted was for you to follow me,
‘cause without you felt so empty.

Brought up by a man of alcoholism and abuse,
he brought me down so far,
I thought, “what’s the use?”
So I thought if I could change, I would.
I searched in all the wrong places,
at parties and bars, and all the wrong faces.  Continue reading

pulling the jail card

I am refreshed when an incarcerated woman accepts her imprisonment as a needed ‘time-out’ from a chaotic life gone off the rails.  A chance to stop the drug-use fueling the crime.  An opportunity to take stock and reset priorities, so to speak.  Prisoners can become obsessessed with ‘getting out’ and not focus on the necessary ‘inside’ work at hand.

“Go to Jail” by R-E-M/Flickr

That’s why JL’s piece below struck a chord with me this week.  She excerpted the phrase ‘marvelous error’ from Antonio Machado’s poem Last night as I was sleeping and articulated deep gratitude for this reconfiguration time.  Enjoy reading on…

Long before the alcohol, the nicotine, the needle, I escaped and soothed with macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and Egg McMuffins.  I would fill the pain with pasta, escape with eclairs, de-stress with Doritos. 

It was my first addiction; not unlike my first words or my first steps, it was the building blocks of my shack of isolation.  It was my first magnificent plan to hide from the world by getting bigger.

I would immediately follow this up with crash diets, thinking that if I could get control of this, I would have control of my entire life. 

What a twisted little game of indulgence and instant gratification that would continue into my adult years, only the stakes became much higher than gaining ten pounds.  The stakes became life and death, Russian roulette with a syringe.

Win or lose, there was no end until one day, as in Monopoly, my Chance Card came up – go to jail, directly to jail.  I did not pass “Go” and certainly did not collect $200 … instead I got to stop playing the game.  And what a marvelous error it has been, to retire my jersey, to step to the sidelines, to sit back and stop playing.  Yes, what a marvelous error, what a delicious mistake.

Could new approach to addictions treatment reduce recidivism?

Marybeth Redmond’s  latest commentary aired on Vermont Public Radio this evening!  She speaks in favor of Governor Shumlin’s proposal for an integrated addictions treatment system statewide.

“Vermont has long been in need of an integrated system for addictions treatment, where doctors, clinicians, caseworkers and databases are all coordinating. Vermonters need a model of care that treats chemical-dependency as a chronic disease like diabetes or depression, where daily medication and relapse-management are the norm not the exception.”

Click “LISTEN” to hear more.

stranglehold addictions

The majority of Vermont’s  incarcerated women struggle with serious drug and/or alcohol addictions.  These stranglehold addictions fuel criminal activities and prevent them from creating healthier lives.   Even doctor-prescribed drugs such as Suboxone and Methadone, used to treat their addictions, increasingly become abused substances.

Here’s one incarcerated woman’s reflection from last evening’s writinginsideVT circle.   K.H. writes about what her addiction has cost her:

It’s hard to believe I have two beautiful babies.  Who would ever know considering that I, their mother, do not care for them the way mothers do.  I, a selfish, rotten, junky, drug-addicted mother, care more for drugs than my children.  I know what you’re thinking, “How can a mother be so heartless?”  And I can’t answer you!  I know it’s a awful thing, but at least I can admit it.  I wish it were not true.  I have lost everything and didn’t care, but I tell you now–there is only time left to care about my children and not myself, and that means doing what it takes to keep my family together. 

‘learning to love myself . . .’

What a powerful prompt from last night’s writing circle inside! It doesn’t take many words to convey a huge journey. Read what one woman shared of her own painful story:


When I was young, I fell in love. But that time it wasn’t myself. It was a horrible drug. Its name was Oxy80. I had started going downhill ‘til I hit rock bottom. Oh, man, did that hurt! I lost everything, including myself. But with help, support and time, I found myself again. Now I am still young and I have fallen in love again. And guess what? It was myself who I had fallen in love with. I am now a mother of two boys. I’m caring, respectful, loving, faithful, fun, outgoing, understanding and I never get enough sleep. But I would never trade it for anything, because I now love myself!

–       TG