When her 5-year-old son was killed, Susan Burton lost her way.
He was playing outside and ran into the street, where a car hit him. In the blink of an eye, Susan’s life as she knew it was over.
She unraveled, and his death led her down a dark spiral. Susan turned to drugs and alcohol to medicate her grief, which resulted in a number of arrests. The life shed envisioned and worked toward had ended abruptly, and she began a cycle of being in and out of prison over 20 years.
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Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, September 13, 2016
When Susan was released from prison for the last time, the guard said, “Youll be back. Well have a bed waiting for you.”
Susan vowed that wouldn’t be the case. But she knew firsthand how hard it can be to reenter society after incarceration.
The reality is that the prison system in America is deeply flawed. The majority of prisoners who leave jail wind up behind bars again within a few years after their release. According to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, “67.8% of the the 404,638 state prisoners released in 2005 in 30 states were arrested within 3 years of release, and 76.6% were arrested within 5 years of release.” Things in 2016 arent much different.
It took years, but with the help of her community, Susan was finally able to break her cycle.
Susan had tried repeatedly to get back on track, but because of her record, she couldnt find a job or treatment programs for her addictions. When she finally found support within her community, Susan became sober, found a steady job, and, most importantly, began to heal.
She wasnt content just to keep herself out of jail; she wanted to help others, too. “I knew hundreds of women that just needed a few months of support to just be able to stand on their feet and not return to prison,” she said.
Susan worked hard, saved her money, and purchased a house. She then turned her new house into a reentry home.
What started as an individual effort quickly grew. A New Way of Life Reentry Project was born.
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