LIFE AFTER PRISON
I met Amy Jo Meacham through "Hour Children", an NGO based in Long Island City that helps women and mothers in prison, they believe in giving the women a second chance in life upon their release from jail. Amy Jo Meacham, is today 42 years old. She was released from prison February 6th 2012, after a seven-year sentence.
LIFE AFTER PRISON
Amy used to work as a fulltime nurse in upstate New York, had a daughter and lived with the father of her child. She was accused of trying to kill her former boyfriend, who for years had submitted her to domestic violence, physical, mental and emotional. On the day of her arrest her former boyfriend had threatened her life holding a gun to her head. She pushed him, the gun went of, and he was wounded. The system put her behind bars, even if she was trying to save her own life while being threatened. She has lost her faith in the system, but hopes that her story one day can help other women.
I first met Amy Jo Meacham two weeks after her release. Life on the outside still feels very overwhelming to her, and on bad days she feels like going back to prison where life is so much easier. But she knows, that she just has to take a day at the time and try to readapt as well as possible to life in freedom. She feel a great guilt towards her daughter whom she has not seen for over seven years. She feels guilty for not leaving her former boyfriend, because then the fatale day that resulted in her imprisonment would never have occurred and she would still be with her daughter, and her daughter would still have her mom. Amy is only able to communicate with her daughter through e-mails that she send to her lawyer, who then forwards them to her now 11 year old daughter. Amy has recently started an internship with Fork Films where she is working in the reception. One day she hopes that she can work with women who are suffering domestic violence in their life, and that her story can help other women from going through what she has lived.
The only thing that keeps Amy going is her daughter whom she hopes to see soon. Through her lawyer she is filling a petition to regain rights for visits.
Amy has from the beginning been keen on sharing her story with me, as we both think it can help other women in her situation, or women who are now suffering physical as mental and emotional abuse from their partners.
This is a story with many layers, and from the experience gained through Amy and other women’s stories as well as the research I have done on the subject I believe there are many laws that need to change in order to help women, especially the ones suffering domestic violence, from receiving long prison sentences when defending their lives. Another issue is the lack of programs and support for women and mothers after being released from prison. Adjusting to life after being incarcerated is very difficult, not only because of the stigma from society, but also because these women have to start all over again, many times learning how to become mothers and connect with their children.This is story I care deeply about and that I wish to continue to shed light on. I hope my project will open the eyes of as many people as posible and show them that many of these women have yes made mistakes in their lives but they deserve a second chance, especially their children who so desperatly need their mothers, that often are the only provider. The children are the ones that suffer the most when their mother go to prison.
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The NGO "Hour Children" started a parenting program for mothers in prison, beacause they saw the importance of building bonds between incarcerated mothers and their children. The program has since grown extensively outside the prison walls in the past years. The organization choose it's name because the sisters who first started the programs beleived that the first hour the mothers and their children spend upon the mothers release from prison is the most important one. The head of the organisation is Sister Teresa Fitzgerald
Main office adress:
Hour Children, 13-07 37th Avenue New York, 11101
Freya I. Morales
60, East 9th Street, #401#
10003 New York
Phone: 917 399 7893