This year Project Liberation helped restore dignity, self-worth, and hope to 206 women, which disrupted their pathways back to prison. With a national recidivism rate of over 50%, none of our participants have returned to prison. Research shows that a lack of personal agency, education, employment, and housing directly correlates to recidivism. We are proud to share that 100% of our participants are employed or enrolled in school, and 100% have secured permanent housing. All of these women have rewritten their stories and become more than their mistakes.
Project Liberation was born of my own experience as a woman who, post incarceration, faced the reality of what it is like for women to have virtually no resources to fall back on after being released from prison. Unwittingly caught up in a fraudulent scheme, I served 4 years of a 5-year sentence in a federal prison. After release, with all my assets gone and many options foreclosed, I realized there were way too many women who would eventually return to prison because they faced a similar reality. I was fortunate that I had some friends and family to support me through the difficult times, and an excellent education and solid work experience. Most are not as fortunate. Prevalent pathways such as sexual assault and violence, economic inequality, addiction, mental health, and lack of self-esteem lead to a downward spiral that a few weeks in a halfway house and a minimum-wage job cannot reverse.
The resources available to women are pitifully few, and not very effective. Yet women are the fastest-growing prison population and 80% of us are mothers. The devastation this creates for our children, our families, and our communities is profound. Our emotional and psycho-social well-being, severely damaged to begin with, is completely overlooked by the bureaucracies that are supposed to work on our behalf.
Project Liberation elevates a woman’s spirit, potential, innate resourcefulness, and actual life prospects. It is an innovative program that fuses life coaching, yoga, meditation, and other trauma-informed healing modalities and administers workshops to women across all stages of justice involvement. This year we have partnered with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and our participants have had great success. As we continue to re-write our stories, we are re-righting the system.