Rare People

These nonprofits are helping pregnant inmates get back on their feet

bolton b and w

, Rare Staff

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A Texas jail is partnering with dozens of area nonprofits to rehabilitate pregnant inmates and inmates with young children.

“Deep in your heart, you really want change, and, just like I said, everybody in here [does]. So, everybody pulled each other to say, “You know, [we're] changing and it’s going to be alright,” Harris County inmate Crystal Charles told the Texas Tribune.

Those at the Sheriff’s Office in November launched Mentoring Moms, a program that shows pregnant inmates and inmates with young children how to search for jobs, conquer their addictions and, ultimately, become better parents.

“My kids are so much more important, and I have two other kids besides this baby and I am not going to give up on them,” said inmate Eileen Gonzales as she pointed to her unborn child.

Students at the University of Houston each semester track the effectiveness of the program and, of the nearly 70 women that have been through the 60-to-90-day course, none have returned to Harris County Jail.

“They have the funding. They have the services. We have the client. We connect them,” Jennifer Herring, spokeswoman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

Ms. Herring argues that Mentoring Moms and programs like it will help reduce the number of those that repeatedly find themselves behind bars.

“I believe that, through these program, we may see lower recidivism rates and we will see people who want to do and become better and contribute now to society.”

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