Tag Archives: women in prison

CCT's Center for Women

A Message from A Summer Intern

One of our summer interns, Kate Capitano, wrote the following:

An official goodbye to one of the most special places in my life: the days were never easy and the love was tough but for that exact reason I can say this summer I finally felt what it means to make the conscious decision to give unconditional love. I’ve realized that compassion becomes so much easier when the human in us recognizes the human in someone else. This summer, I’ve learned how to brew a pot of coffee, why raspberries are hollow, and that you can fit way more Mountain Dews in a locker than you would think. I’ve also learned that to give love costs nothing and it doesn’t run out no matter how many people you let in. Thank you for teaching me that to find your place in the world, look for where the world’s hurt meets your passion and go from there.

Iris Thomas’ Release Story

“I can’t even explain it in words!” Iris exclaims as she starts her release interview with me. “Everything I’ve been hustling for my whole adult life has come to be in the last 6 months”. It is August 8th, 2018, and Iris Thomas who will be 69 years young next week, is leaving prison by way of CCT’s Center for Women. She’s been in and out of prison since she was 23 years old; this last time since 2011. She says this time is different, this time she will not be going back. “I came in with a different mindset. I said to myself ‘I’m definitely not coming out the same way I go in’. I just purged myself of all of that.”

In 2011 as she awaited her sentencing hearing, Iris says she thought about running. Now in her 60s, she didn’t know if she could survive prison again. But she says her son encouraged her to go in, do her time, and come back out clean; so she showed up in court and went back behind bars.

Iris’ revolving door in and out of the prison system began with a charge she picked up while in a domestic violence situation. Addiction fueled her poor decisions from then on, and all told she served 5 different prison sentences over the years. This time, Iris was transferred to CCT’s Center for Women for the last part of her sentence, and she says that her time here, along with a different mindset, has made all the difference.

When she first arrived at CCT, Iris completed our LifeWorks! Program, a job readiness and life skills program we offer free of charge to anyone with a criminal record. “LifeWorks! Was very much needed and helped me get through it. I was very nervous to be job searching in my 60s but I did it”. Iris found a job as a housekeeper. “It required some humbling at first. I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology, but I needed to do it”. Iris quickly became extremely valued at work; so valued that when she announced she’d be moving away from the Charlotte area after her release, her work happily gave her a transfer to her new location, threw her a going away party, and named their kitchen after her.

Iris says that a big part of her success this time around was learning new coping skills. Not only did she learn from the staff at the Center for Women and LifeWorks!, but she also participated in CCT’s substance abuse and trauma program, Seeking Safety, funded by the ABC Board of Mecklenburg County. Iris says she’s experienced a lot of trauma, and being in Seeking Safety gave her a space to process it. “Seeking Safety helped me open up and talk about it, which let me… I like the word purge… let me purge and cleanse myself and get through it. I always stayed after group to talk to Cathy… I especially needed more coping skills for conflict management, and she really helped me with that too”.

Today as Iris is waiting for her family to come pick her up from our facility, she’s beaming with joy. She repeatedly gives glory and honor to God, quoting scripture, making it apparent she’s a woman of strong faith. “Yes,” she says, “By the grace of God I came to this program and I am going home.” She tells me she’s going home to a rental property, family, her own car, and with some modest savings along with her job. “What does the future hold for you?” I ask, and she tells me she wants to eventually start her own catering business. “Why are you choosing to share your story publicly?” I ask, curious, and she says simply, “I want people to look at me and see this program works.” She then goes on to tell me that she hopes to come back to visit CCT around the holidays and cook a meal for the women who are still incarcerated here. “If there’s one thing I want the ladies to know it’s don’t feel hopeless. I hope they keep an open mind. Keep your ears open, and be willing to submit and take people’s advice. It took me a long time to learn to do that!”

 

CCT Program Reports Released

Each year, CCT compiles an Annual Report to provide an overview of our finances and accomplishments to our stakeholders. In Fiscal Year 2017, CCT released more detailed individual program reports. You can read them below.

  

Two women water a newly made garden bed.

New Garden at the Center for Women

Last week volunteer extraordinaire, Pam Eavenson, assisted residents of the Center for Women with starting a vegetable and herb garden. The garden is on the grounds of our main facility and we look forward to watching it grow alongside our residents. Make sure you check it out next time you visit.

A Mother Sees her Daughters for the First Time in 6 Years

Latasha was transferred to CCT Center for Women earlier this year after six years in prison. A wife and mother of two, she struggled with her roles as both behind bars. Her husband, Todd, a wonderful father, did not want their two girls, Baylee and Tannon, to be exposed to the prison atmosphere, and decided that they would not visit their mother in prison. It was a tough decision, one that no family should have to make.

The environment at the Center for Women is very different from a regular corrections facility, resembling a dormitory more than a prison. There are no bars or barbed wire. Residents may decorate their rooms, which they share with one roommate, as they wish. On any given day you’ll see the hustle and bustle of the women coming and going from work, school, or adventures out in the community with our amazingly dedicated volunteer sponsors. So when Latasha came here, she told Todd it was a much more suitable environment for their two girls.

Latasha plays basketball with her youngest daughter.

Latasha plays basketball with her youngest.

After visiting our facility himself, he decided that yes, the homey atmosphere was healthy enough for his children. So, after six long years, the family reunited. After hugs and joyful tears, the foursome played several games of basketball outside the dorm, soaking in the sunshine and relishing simply being together.

By allowing our residents to rebuild relationships and restore family bonds while they are finishing their sentences, we know that they are more likely to make a successful transition back into their homes and communities when they are released.