For Mothers in Charge, Keeping Mothers Out of Prison is Crucial

Published on The Daily Femme – Monday, Nov. 1, 2010

Contributed by Annamarya

As I mentioned in my previous post on bullying for The Daily Femme, I believe it’s vitally important to not only offer services to victims of violence but to also provide support to offenders in an effort to sort out reasons for aggression and help them work to better themselves. So when I came across Philadelphia Weekly’s story on the Philadelphia-based advocacy and support group, Mothers In Charge, and their efforts to keep women, particularly mothers, out of jail, I knew I had to share it with our readers.

According to the PW piece, Mothers in Charge, originally founded as an advocacy and support organization for families that lost loved ones to violence, directs a Thinking for Change program, which is a national curriculum offering life skills and anger management courses designed to reduce recidivism rates, that’s attended by social services-chosen female prisoners, who make up 15.75 percent of all Philadelphia inmates as of the 2010 fiscal year. In addition to the course, which was started by Mothers in Charge’s founder Dorothy Johnson-Speight after a female inmate of Philadelphia’s Riverside Correctional Facilitygot in touch with her when she learned her son was murdered on the outsidem graduates, who so far comes in at about 90 women, have access to a re-entry job-program, through which Johnson-Speight helps them find data entry positions or work in grocery stores. There’s also a larger purpose for this class: according to the article, keeping mothers from re-entering the prison system and available to raise their children is a decisive factor for Johnson-Speight, whose son was murdered in 2004, in fighting violence and tackling the “root causes” of violent crimes.

With a mission to prevent violence, provide education and intervention for families, children, young adults and community groups, and offer grief counseling and support services to those affected by violent crime, whatMothers in Charge is doing for women inmates with children is absolutely wonderful. If we want to reduce recidivism, prevent crime and nourish people and communities, we need to provide services to prisoners that address the issues, be it addiction or anger, which may have lead to their criminal behavior, teach them skills, offer job training & placement programs so they can find suitable and financially beneficial work once released, and make available to them continuous counseling and support to help avert repeat behavior. Mothers are a crucial component in nurturing the development of youth, which is why keeping them from re-entering the system so they can raise their children and teach them to lead positive, fulfilling lives is the right step in breaking the cycle of violence.


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