New Beginnings - Educating Women Behind Bars
A group of women sitting in a circle at an evening meeting are sharing stories from their lives and the challenges they have faced. The women listen to one another and offer encouraging words of support to each other. Sounds like a church small group, a support group, even a ladies social. The women are feeling safe and are learning skills which will empower them to live through the challenges they will face in life and to overcome them. Sounds like the sort of opportunity offered in most cities and towns, but it isn’t. These women are inmates at the Dallas County Jail.
These women are in a life skills class offered to them in prison by Resolana. Resolana is a community-based nonprofit organization that provides holistic, gender-sensitive, rehabilitative programming for incarcerated women. These women feel safe and they should because that is the whole point of Resolana’s program which is to build a safe environment for women in prison, while also providing them with the skills and resources necessary to lead positive and productive lives when they are released and re-emerge in their communities and return to their families.
Says Resolana “our mission is to educate and empower incarcerated women.” This is something that Resolana, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization does very well.
The name Resolana comes from the Spanish term la resolana which refers to the sunny side of a building or plaza, a protected place where the warmth absorbed by the adobe walls draws people to gather together and talk. Traditionally, the village elders (called 'los resolaneros' or sun seekers) spent their afternoons seated against these "warming walls," exchanging news with passersby, swapping stories, and passing on their cultural wisdom to the community. What an ideal name for a program which seeks to empower women to lead more positive and purposeful lives!
Since this program began at the Dallas County Jail in 2006, 1000 women have completed the program. It is important to note that the tax payers in the region pay $57.49 per day for each inmate in the jail. It is the goal of Resolana to invest in these women through private donations and grants, $10.00 per woman/per class (as of last year) and ultimately to save the tax payers money by educating the women so that they will not be repeat offenders and thus not return to jail.Continued on the next page