Nearly two-thirds of people who are released from prison will return within three years. That’s because they often have trouble overcoming substance abuse, finding a job or securing decent housing. Kim Riemland takes us to a special place in San Antonio that’s helping female offenders overcome the odds.
(Locator: San Antonio, Tx )
The first thing you notice, beyond the tidy yard and cheerful exterior…
Nat/Resident is given directions: “ As long as you follow the rules...”
…is that this house has rules.
Nat/Resident is given directions: “The wake up time is 6:30.”
They’re recited to residents. They’re hung on the walls…
Nat/Resident is given directions: “A chore list...”
…because learning to follow rules could mean the difference between these women succeeding or going back behind bars.
Sherryl Cloud/Resident, Woman at the Well House: “I just got released from prison July 11th. I know that everybody makes mistakes, but I’m not a mistake today.”
The “Woman at the Well” house was started by a United Methodist pastor who ran a Bible study in the county jail.
Priscilla Murguia/Executive Director, Woman at the Well House: “And she saw that many of the women would automatically come back into the system as soon as they were being released, due to the fact that they didn’t have any support once they got out.”
Here, they have a clean, safe place to live, access to education and encouragement from other women who are, or have been, in their shoes.
Nat/Terry McDowell to new resident: “We still remember being residents.”
Terry McDowell first came here just days out of prison with a suitcase of clothes and a lifetime of baggage.
Terry McDowell/House Manager, Woman at the Well House: “I chose drugs and alcohol. That always leads to no good.”
Seven months at this house and she’d earned her GED, secured housing, and learned how to follow rules.
Terry McDowell/ House Manager, Woman at the Well House: “It’s a new beginning. It’s structure. It’s encouragement.”
Two years after leaving as a resident, Terry’s here as house manager.
The Well House has served more than 450 women; 80 percent have successfully completed the program. The hope is when they leave here, they’re equipped to make it in the community – that they’ll never again go back to jail.
Resident: “I’m happy to be where I’m at today.”
The “Woman at the Well House” is supported completely by donations, grants and volunteers. In order to “graduate,” women must get full-time employment, appropriate housing, and be connected with a church of their choice.
For more information, call 210-472-2787 or go to the Web site at www.well-house.org.