Sister That Been There opened the doors to their safe space for individuals reentering into the community after being released from Humboldt County’s Department of corrections, on September 19th Sister That Been There held the first workshop with an attendance of two. The workshop provides a supportive approach, and navigates the needs of individuals on a journey to rehabilitation in the humboldt county area. STBT holds the weekly group at the Salvation Army located at 2123 tydd street in eureka ca and meets on Tuesday each week at 5pm to educate support individuals through the difficulties that can arise on their journey through reentry.
SO Humboldt county has Sister That Been There but no services no support and no guidance. I’ve returned to this county where my journey began and have found it necessary to find the founds and feed the lives of this community that find themselves running into the brick walls that are built in the center of this small Fisher mans/loggers community.
The end of a run in these streets are the same here in Humboldt as many big city’s its a old fashion style know to the convict as cold concrete and and cold cuffs binding not only the physical body but the spiritual body. So wheres the founds? Lets help them break this cycle and rehabilitate, because like many county’s in the state of California this problem is not subsiding but improvement is taking place in the new reentry program flourishing in many county’s such as Santa Clara L.a. county and many more.
Humboldt County was awarded $20 million in state funding 2015 for the purpose of creating a Humboldt Community Corrections Reentry Resource Center on the east side of the jail. The center proposes to add 44 more beds and would provide educational and treatment programs for inmates and probationers to help transition them back into society. My concern at this time is why this is not a regular topic on the Board of supervisors weekly agenda. you would think this would be a hot topic in Humboldt after being denied the first grant proposal.
All it takes is one concerned community member to start a movement I hope my voice is the movement that gets this project move to next months agenda. Id love to know the plans that are being implemented to help the rehabilitating individuals in Humboldt County and how Sisters That Been There can be apart of Humboldt County realignment-reentry movement .
Stay tuned Sisters That Been There is Here In Humboldt County!
As I sat in my jail cell in November of 2010, I read closely an article entitled “The Power of a Letter” from Women’s Day magazine. Although I knew the impact of a letter at that time, I was impressed to see that others on the outside had remembered the powerful art. I had thought it was something that only existed for people affected by incarceration.
Receiving mail is an experience in itself, but to open a letter addressed to you is a gift that no longer gets the recognition it deserves. Letter writing is a lifeline for the incarcerated women I work with. For any human in lock up of any sort, it’s the only way one feels a sense of freedom. That is why any proposal to limit inmates from receiving mail is tremendously harmful – to the inmates, their loved ones, and our collective community.
In the writings you will read here, you will see the true power of the letter. It is life altering, life-saving, therapeutic, a source of mental health support, and much more. You will see that letters are what keeps inmates focused on leading a successful life on the outside, and serve as important reminders that there are people out here ready to support them.
I Have Your Letter Taped to My Wall, Thank You
I woke up at 5 this morning here and found some mail had been slid under my door. Naturally I knew this was some sort of mistake, because I had only been here a short few days. When I opened the card from all the girls at S.T.B.T and read, “Welcome home and we are praying for you” all the days I have spent holding my emotions in and being visibly strong through this entire ordeal came to an instant surface. I cried so hard for the best part of two hours. I am moved by your support and believe you are a gift from God as he knows my heart and who I am. Please thank all the girls for me and I can’t wait to meet all of you. I am so excited at what lies ahead.
I have your letters taped to the wall here in my cell. I reminisce constantly about meeting all of you. I cry every time I read the words in my card “welcome home.” It’s been a long, rough road, but I did it. Thank for making me feel loved, not alone, and home. I love you all.
You Made Me Feel Less Alone
“For my sisters, the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they dont have any.”
I like that. Man, you don’t even know just how your letter has made me feel not alone, like someone really does care about me. All I can say is thank you. I’ve been so depressed I don’t know where I went wrong. I never felt so lonely, I never cared how I hurt my family until now, until this moment. I feel so alone. Well, my sisters, I just needed to vent and you were that one. I was the first one to see the article in the Mercury News about Sisters That Been There. Love it. I love you, keep up the positivity.
Need a Letter or Picture As I Start a New Life
I’ll be 33 years old this year. I’m currently doing a 3 year sentence at Elmwood. I’ve been in and out of jail since 2002. I put myself in program, so I can start my life on the right path. I don’t have support from my family and I don’t blame them. But time is so hard without a picture and a letter time to time. I’d like to receive a list of services your support group offers. I look forward to hearing from you.
Please Help, Thinking of Giving Up
I have a long history of drug use and my trauma goes back to the age of 4. I am learning how to change the behavior that get me locked up. I just feel like giving up sometimes. I have 6 months clean and I need all the help I can get. Please help me. I’m 50 years old and I have lost everything. I’m thinking maybe I should just give up.
Please Send Photos, I’ll Be Here for a While
Hi, my friends and I were talking about the new mail rule for inmates. We will only be able to have postcards sent to us. Some of us don’t have any family willing to send us pictures, and our friends brought you up. Is it possible you could please go on our facebook pages and print out some pictures and send them to us? I am 28 years old with two daughters. I will be here for a while and no one writes me. Please help!
A Letter Is Always Timeless For Those Doing Time
There are only a few ways of staying connected to the outside world when you are behind the wall –phones, visits, tv, newspaper, mail and often time lyrics to music. Most people never experience calls, or get visits, so the way we stay connected to the real world is mail at 10pm at night in the women’s side of Elmwood. And for those that don’t get mail, the power is in your cell mates sharing some inspiration. We share photos to uplift our spirits, and read from the folded pages to our podettes. To limit this would be limiting the basic livelihood of inmates period. If us who have been there don’t speak up, no one would ever know the power of a letter – stamped, signed, sealed and delivered to you in a place that feels so far from the real world, but yet is so close when put in the hands of a confined soul! A letter will always be timeless to those doing time!
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When we allow incarcerated women the opportunity to share her experience and allow them to have a voice in the free world, it is truly amazing the magic that transpires.
Though the women in STBT come from many different backgrounds, they often share the same simple solutions stemming from one common experience. I often tell the women in my group the keys to your freedom are within yourself. Their recent writings say the same!
After viewing a documentary “Crime after Crime” which is about a woman, Deborah Peagler, fighting for her freedom after serving 27 years in prison. My hope was to motivate the women to take advantage of their freedom. Emotions were ever present as we sat in our weekly STBT session and viewed the film. Some chose to suppress them, but the exposure alone was the change taking place for these ladies. I asked the ladies to write about how the film impacted them personally, and as I read each entry I again became grateful and re-assured of the position I and the program plays in their lives and in the community.
The women that are coming out of these prisons and jails all have the keys to free themselves. It is our duty as concerned parties to provide them with the experience that enables them to reach down inside with out the fears the confine them and pick up the keys they carry. Here are their writings…
Continue to Fight, and Never Give Up!
I felt a strong sense of hope when I watched this film. There were many times when things didn’t go the way she planned, like getting denied appeal or the process got backed tracked and shot down by prosecution. Yet she continued to fight and never once gave up! I felt hopeful to see that there are still people out there that have good intentions and who believe in people like us and want to help us!
You Can Smell and Taste Your Freedom
I wish the film would of showed Deborah’s release and her walking through the sally port gates. When you walk through the sally port its as if you can smell and taste your freedom. I realize it the same air, but the feeling of the air on one side of the prison is completely different on the free side of the prison gates. Hopefully one day documentaries will show the whole release process of inmates being released after serving a long amount of time.
The Sense of Hopelessness and the Strength of Faith
Although this story is one of hope and freedom, I found myself feeling hopeless. Continually being denied your freedom began to wear my spirit down and I felt a strong since of hopelessness. Debbie gave all of herself to a man who abused her then to the justice system. She lost time with her children, her family and the world. I released my feelings of hopelessness when she was finally released. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy — a journey completed. I admire her ability to continue to have faith in the world and in people. Her trust in others gives me the strength to feel I too can have faith in others and that there is good in the world.
Stayed by Her Side
I experienced sharing a bunk with Debbie in prison. So by me being a woman that has been there, I was very touched to see the lawyer stayed by her side no matter what the case looked like. I realize today that all things are possible. I try to keep this in mind especially when I feel like giving up. So far this support is an A + thank you!
Sometimes we look too deep and miss our opportunity to effectively help one another out of the system. The writings you have read give you a little bit of ingredients to what each woman is in need of to insure she is on her journey to freedom – support, hope, a voice, encouragement and my favorite — love.
– Steeda, founder of Sisters That Been There