The women from Crossroads recently attended the Vox Femina L.A. Concert! The following are quotes from a couple of the women who attended:
“The Vox Femina concert was an amalgamate of hope, outrage, activism, the yearning for peace, acknowledgement of injustice, and the willingness to stand up against it. The voices inspired me and stirred my heart from complacency. Thank you Vox! One day there will be justice for all!”
“The music was really enjoyable. The last piece was incredible with the message about love and marriage. It was so touching that I cried. Thank you for a wonderful time.”
The women of Crossroads possess incredible strength and resilience upon release from prison. Before joining the Crossroads family, they must display clear desire and initiative to turn their lives around and complete our program. In the state of California, 59% of all women released from prison return to prison within three years. In contrast, 86% of Crossroads graduates are self-sustaining after six years!
Crossroads, Inc. helps women who have experienced significant hardship. In 2003, 57% of all women in California’s prisons had been physically or sexually abused prior to incarceration. About 80% suffered from substance abuse problems while 27% received therapy or counseling for mental health issues. A total of 30% received welfare assistance and 64% lived with their children prior to incarceration. Of those 64%, almost half lived in single households. Of all women entering prison in 2003, 87% were convicted of non-violent drug or property crimes.*
Crossroads’ program helps its participants cope with issues faced upon release in an effective and successful manner. Counseling and education are provided in a group setting and include, but are not limited to, substance abuse issues, relapse prevention, anger management, relationships and family life, self-esteem, basic life skills, food preparation (including planning, shopping, and preparing healthy meals), and home management. Women are also taught money management skills: they are required to find employment, open a savings account, and save a minimum of 75% of their income. This program has proved to be extremely effective, as shown by the very high rate of success of our graduates.
Crossroads women also participate in a variety of inventive activities such as art, creative writing, and gardening. Samples of these activities will be available for viewing shortly. To see images of Christmas at Crossroads, click here!
*Statistics taken from “Breaking the Barriers for Women on Parole,” A report by the State of California Little Hoover Commission
Faith describes herself as a forty-nine year old mother. She readily admits that she spent most of her daughters’ childhood in prison, however talk of her two girls (ages 20 and 17) is woven throughout our entire two-hour conversation. She says that she wants live a life that she, and her children will be proud of. She wonders aloud that perhaps she is still finding out who she is.
After graduating from high school, Faith took classes for court reporting, but dropped out to work full-time to support herself after a brief, failed marriage. Starting as an administrative assistant, she quickly worked her way up in the company. With the promotions came enough money for recreational drugs and before long she was addicted to cocaine. Next were methamphetamines, a form of which she had sampled when she was thirteen years old, taking some of her mother’s diet pills.
When talking about growing up, Faith briefly mentions her mom who committed suicide when Faith was thirteen, and was quickly replaced by a stepmother about a month after her mother died. Her father drank a good amount and Faith remarks that “by eight years old, we (her siblings) all knew how to bartend.” She never makes excuses for becoming involved with drugs. It’s matter of fact, she did it, she is an addict, and now she is here to commit to change and live the rest of her life as a contributing member of society.
Faith has been as Crossroads for six weeks. She says that she loves it here and feels protected and safe. After spending over eight years in prison during two different incarcerations, she is ready to embrace change. The first time she was incarcerated she didn’t receive any treatment for her addiction, yet she managed to stay clean for thirteen years. Once again though, after drugs came back into the picture it didn’t take long for Faith to end up back in prison. This time she was placed in a substance abuse program, however it eventually was closed due to budget cuts. Faith then began writing to Sister Terry to make application to enter Crossroads upon her release. Four days before she paroled, she received news from Sister Terry that there was room for her and she was accepted.
Faith’s days are busy, with twelve-step meetings seven times during the week, various groups, chores, counseling, church, and evening activities. As soon as she completes orientation, she’ll be able to begin working and receive passes to visit family members.
When asked about what she hopes for when she leaves Crossroads, Faith responds that she wants to feel comfortable living in society, with a job that will support her, and the tools and support for her to live sober. She finds the program supports and nurtures her in many ways. Sister Terry listens and understands. Jackie deals with the women in a supportive, no-nonsense way, and each woman in the house is nurturing in her own way, all having the common bond of doing time.
When asked what she wants people to know about her, Faith thoughtfully answered, “I want people to know that I’m worth another chance. I can become a productive member of society. I cannot take back what I’ve done, but I can be a whole woman, and be an asset to society. I’m here and I’m going to make it.”
I believe her.