Teaching Male Inmates (by Brittany Johnson)

Michelle and I went down to the men’s pod, and at first it sounded like they didn’t have anyone for class. After a bit, they found 4 men who wanted to participate.  We got into the classroom, set up the tables and started class like normal.  I sat and did the paperwork while Michelle taught Shaken Baby.  While I was sitting there I noticed that one of the guys (who was sitting on the end closest to me) kept staring at me.  It seemed slightly awkward, but then, I think that’s a common feeling we get when we teach the guys.  All of the guys were kind and very engaged in the class.

As Michelle finished up, I began to prepare to teach the Daddy Difference.  As I taught the remainder of the class, there were several deputies and inmates that would walk past the classroom.  At one point, there where inmates outside the room that seemed to be entertained at the fact there were two women in the room.  I was annoyed and a bit distracted by that.  Go figure!  But the men were all thankful and even humbled that we would want to come.

This was a harder class for me.  Ups and downs are common, but I saw a man today that was not on his best behavior and exposed himself.  I guess I just expect that since we are ladies they will treat us with respect.  That is an unrealistic expectation, and I needed to be reminded of that.

I am honored to be a part of such a willing team of women.  Women who trust that this is what they were called to d and trust that we would be protected at all times.

A New Inmate... (by Janice Banther)

There was a new inmate in pregnancy class today…As I sat with her and watch and listened to her talk about all these thing she has done, and how confused and hurt she is, frustration and fear all over her face, her pain and sorrows were so evident and genuine I empathized with her and I wish I had all the right answers and comforting things to say.   I did my best to calm her down and reassure her we were there for her.  She said when she had her ultrasound recently her baby was doing well.  “He looked normal and fine,” she said.   I told her that she should see the positive in that and know that she may not have done as much damage as she thinks, and this little baby loves her and needs her.

That seemed to help her, and she thanked me for listening to her.  I know she is in this place for a reason and I keep that in mind as I listen (which helps to keep my emotions in check), but I am also looking at this woman who is suffering and has some real issues going on in her life that seem so completely overwhelming – so much that after changing her mind about aborting her baby and suicide, she decided she would rather be in jail than deal with things.  That is a very real, seriously distressed woman.

I can’t imagine what someone has been through that this was the only choice they felt would help them.  I am glad that this program exists, and that we are able to come in and listen to the women who just want to be heard for a few minutes and get an understanding of what may be happening to their bodies – even if they have been pregnant before.  Having the opportunity to support them through their birth experience and give these women and the encouragement and kindness women need during labor and delivery is amazing, an they are so grateful.  I am so grateful.