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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

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100 Women Attend Forum Geared Toward Empowering
Women Returning Home From Jail or Prison
“Lifetime Makeover” Event Encouraged Women
to Step in, Step out, and Step up

     WASHINGTON - More than 100 women attended a public symposium last weekend that was geared toward enlightening, empowering and motivating women to rebuild their lives after returning home to the District of Columbia from prisons or jails.

     The program, called “Lifetime Makeover: Stepping In, Stepping Out and Stepping Up,” took place on Saturday, February 11, 2012, at Temple of Praise Church, 700 Southern Avenue SE. Speakers included people who counsel, supervise and work with female ex-offenders, as well as women who are successfully making the transition from incarceration to the community.

     The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia partnered to present the program with the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC), Our Place D.C., and DC Healthy Start Consortium, Inc. The all-day session built upon the success of a similar effort last year, called “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

     The forum served a two-fold purpose: educating the broader community on the importance of supporting reentry efforts and providing access to the resources necessary for women to make a successful homecoming transition.

     “Our public safety depends on giving former offenders the support they need to get back on the right track when they return home from prison,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. “Women returning home face special challenges, and this event was an important opportunity to pull together as a community to help them succeed.”

     “We at CSOSA are grateful for the collaboration with our criminal justice and community partners that enabled our Women’s Reentry Program to be a great success,” said Nancy M. Ware, director of CSOSA. “We were able to provide the women in attendance with helpful information about job retention, housing, drug treatment and recovery, and healthy relationships. The women left the event with some of the tools they need to begin their ‘Lifetime Makeover.’ As they go forward in their journey, we will continue to assist and support them in overcoming the challenges they face.”

     “We (the UPSC) were glad once again to be a part in this year’s Women’s Reentry Forum,” said Isaac Fulwood, Jr., Chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission. “I am firmly of the belief that we are all connected. In this effort to reduce recidivism and effect positive change, the success of USPC and our partners and the success of these women as they re-enter the community is inextricably tied. The tools and the information provided at this forum, along with the close supervision of CSOSA, is just what is needed for the ladies to press forward and be successful. I wish them well.”

     Hundreds of women have returned to the community in recent years after serving prison time for felony violations of District of Columbia laws. In 2009, for example, more than 200 women returned home from prison under CSOSA’s supervision.

     The symposium featured panel discussions focusing on housing, employment, life skills/mentoring support, drug treatment/recovery support systems, and building healthy relationships. Many panels showcased success stories and first-person accounts from many of the women themselves.

     The day culminated with a “Lifetime Makeover” fashion show in which 24 reentry women participated. The show was possible because of a drive at CSOSA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that garnered hundreds of donated suits in all sizes and styles. The women were able to receive and model the suits in the fashion show at the conclusion of the program.

     Volunteers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and CSOSA personally provided styling and make-up application to prepare the women for the show. The make-overs were dramatic, inside and out, as the women were uplifted and encouraged during the process. The women were able to see themselves in a new light after experiencing the transformation. The Lifetime Makeover women walked with a brand new look and outlook on their lives that was evident for all to see.

     Our Place D.C. and DC Healthy Start Consortium, Inc. offer a variety of services to help formerly and currently incarcerated women. Leaders of both organizations were present at the event. Numerous other community service providers were also on hand to provide information.





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