Magazine article The Crisis

Richmond Program Helps Former Female Inmates

Magazine article The Crisis

Richmond Program Helps Former Female Inmates

Article excerpt


On April 18, Bill Russell was named coach of the Boston Celtics, becoming the first Black to coach an NBA team.

More than 100,000 females now fill U.S. prisons, and nearly two-tnirds are women of color. As their rate of incarceration increases, so does the need to help them successfully return to society.

Acccording to the national Women's Prison Association, women leaving prison need help in five key areas: livelihood, housing, family, health and criminal justice compliance. Former inmates agree that support with these issues can keep women from cycling back into a life of crime.

"When we come out, we have nothing," says former inmate Patricia Glover of Richmond, Va.

Glover, 38, was released from federal prison three years ago. Her transition was eased by the support she received through Women Inspired to Transform (WIT). The grassroots organization based in Richmond, Va., was initially created to help struggling mothers become better parents.

Through WIT, professional or retired women, who are primarily African American, befriend women who have faced difficult circumstances, including incarceration and drug addiction.

Children's author Muriel Miller Branch established the program in April 2003, after becoming frustrated by the lack of parenting skills she had witnessed in some of the young mothers in her community. Instead of griping, she decided to help by recruiting friends, church members and other associates to embrace women whose paths might not otherwise cross theirs.

One of Branch's recruits was Lillian Lambert, a Richmond businesswoman who was the first African American female to receive an MBA from Harvard University's business school. …

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