When Allen Woods’ son turned 6 recently, Woods couldn’t wish him a happy birthday in person, give him a hug, or marvel at how tall he’d grown. He had to send a card in the mail.
Twenty-four hours a day for 10 weeks, inmates in maroon uniforms with “D.O.C.” stamped on the backs held a death vigil over Frank Rodriguez. His colon cancer was terminal, but he refused to die – not behind the barbed wire and bars of Graterford Prison.
Tanya Curtis’ path to re-entry from prison last year looked suspiciously like a dead-end road. She was broke, for one thing. She didn’t have a high school diploma or GED. She had a history of addiction, drug dealing, petty crime.
Ivy Johnson spent 18 years in prison for killing someone in a fight and every day that death weighs on her. “To make amends I have to save another life,” she said. It wasn’t long ago that Johnson graduated from a 10-week program, Women Working for A Change,” that teaches women who have been in prison about self-esteem, active listening, healthy relationships and job preparation.
The fifth cohort of the Mothers in Charge “Women Working for a Change” program graduated during a ceremony Tuesday at the R2L Restaurant at Liberty Place in Center City Philadelphia. The program serves women returning to their communities after incarceration.is a Philadelphia based-violence prevention, education and intervention organization.
June is Reentry Awareness Month and The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com are part of the Philadelphia Reentry Reporting Collaborative, a solutions-oriented focus on issues facing people coming out of prison. The piece is part of an occasional series – across the region and across platforms – on the challenges of – and solutions to – prisoner reentry in Philadelphia.
HARRISBURG – State officials are launching the first statewide council to help former prison inmates navigate the challenges of finding housing, work and health care as they adjust to life outside bars. – Sarah Mearhoff, Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News