Women leaving prison in Alabama walk out the door with $10 in their pocket, a bus ticket, and little more than the clothes on their back, only to face obstacles in every aspect of daily living.
Aid to Inmate Mothers created an aftercare program, Project Reconnect, to prepare the women for release and help them successfully transition back into the community. The program is coordinated by Karen Carr, a former inmate who has gained the respect of the prison administration and inmates alike. It is designed for inmate mothers who are within one year of the end of their sentences.
Each week, AIM holds a class in the prison to provide education and information to help ensure a successful transition. Facilitators teach courses on topics relating to life skills, job preparedness, STD awareness, human sexuality and conflict resolution. Periodically, Karen also brings in guests to speak on topics such as domestic violence, sentencing laws, Pell grants, social service benefits available to women when they leave prison and how to be a successful parolee.
Reconnecting to the Community
After release, AIM steps in to help the women secure jobs and housing and provide essential counseling. At a minimum, participants receive follow-up support for one year.
More than 150 women released from Tutwiler in the last year are still under AIM’s wing. Karen works tirelessly to help each of the women overcome challenges. Sometimes, all they need is a sympathetic ear to listen to the frustrations they encounter as they make their transition and negotiate through family problems. Other times, more serious intervention is necessary.
Among the successes:
- A 45-year-old woman in Montgomery has been out of prison 6 months and is now working at Webster Products. She has a car and continues to live at a transitional home.
- A 35 year-old woman who has been out of prison three months is living at a halfway house where she is receiving drug treatment and counseling and treatment for HIV.
- A 48-year-old woman who has been out of prison one year is working at an Embassey Suites Hotel as a desk manager and also has a hair salon on the weekends. She has regained custody of her two minor children, and she has her own apartment and car.
How you can help
These successes are made possible by AIM volunteers and donors. Your support helps these women to rebuild their lives and be better mothers and citizens.