These stories were written by men and women who participated in the Woman’s Opportunity Rehabilitation Center (WORC). The women participated as an alternative to an incarceration program and the men participated in a vocational and educational component to the program. The workshop took place over three days with support and guidance to help formulate their page one moments.
The first time I went to jail I was 18. I began selling drugs to help provide for my family at a young age. In prison, I can honestly say I did not get the help I needed to rehabilitate. At times the conditions were unbearable. I felt the custodial officers and community correction officers were not there to help me, and they changed so often that it was hard to keep up. Police laughed and jeered at serious moments and did not offer support. No one recognized that I might need support as a victim of violence, PTSD and as a person who has experienced trauma.
Once released I struggled to complete corrections orders and parole in the community, because of the lack of available support and rehabilitation. In result I went back to prison for parole violation. Throughout my involvement in the justice system, I believe it was my community rather than the system that has helped me turn my life around.
I am now a social worker and have been working in the justice system for many years. It feels like more of the youth are ending up in custody than ever before. I have many clients who return to me after breaching court orders and falling through the cracks in the overstretched service system such as I did. The lack of referral pathways and long-term funding for programs makes me feel like the odds are stacked against my clients no matter how much I put into their cases.
Painting by Gwynne Duncan