In their own words, four formerly incarcerated women describe their paths after they were released
Topeka Sam co-founded Hope House NYC, which opened in 2017. Hope House, an initiative of The Ladies of Hope Ministries, is transitional housing for single women who have been incarcerated and are returning to New York City.
“When I got home, I started going around, organizing with other women around women’s issues and incarceration, and just seeing that it was the same issues happening: Women need housing, women need resources, women need all these things.”
Tracy Brumfield is the creator of RISE Up News, a newspaper with a mission to remove post-incarceration barriers, to empower those behind bars with resources and information. She is now working on audience expansion and additional reentry programs for the nonprofit.
“The greatest gift I can give you… is what I like to call ‘the real real,’ ” said Brumfield. “I go into the Hamilton County N32 G pod every Thursday, and we talk about the things in life that can really change us, and how in those moments, if we listen to our gut, we can make good decisions.”
Susan Burton is the founder of A New Way of Life Reentry Project, with a mission to promote healing, power and opportunity for formerly incarcerated people by taking a multifaceted approach to mitigating the effects of, and ultimately eliminating, mass incarceration.
“I think we all want to make an impact; [it’s never] too late. My job now was to value each and every woman, to cast aside my doubt and believe in them—and to teach them to cast aside their own doubt an to hold themselves and others to a standard of accountability, integrity and respect.”
Keri Blakinger spent nearly two years incarcerated before becoming a criminal justice reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice issues.
“I’ve been so privileged in so many ways to end up with hope and second chances and a happy ending…A lot of people don’t have that, and I wish that more did.”