Project for women after incarceration - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Project for women after incarceration


MADISON (WKOW ) -- The number of incarcerated mothers has increased dramatically across the U.S.

When they do get out of jail or prison, it's often tough to get back into the community and rebuild their lives.

Women getting out of jail are finding some hope in the Backyard Mosaic Women's Project.

The group is taking a unique approach to help women like Felicia Jones get their lives back on track.

"My addiction was terrible," Jones said. "I was 36 years old when I became addicted to crack cocaine. It was a nightmare."

Her nightmare started in 2004. She says her addiction almost cost her children.

"They were out of my life for almost four years," Jones said.

Then, it almost cost her life.

"There was a double murder which should have been a triple, but I escaped from it."

Jones says she bought drugs from Alec Williams in 2006 on the night of a double murder.

She saw blood in his apartment. When she asked about it, he told her to leave.

"I share my story of the things that happened because I shouldn't be alive. I should not be alive," Jones said.

She said she tried to get help at a drug treatment center but she either needed insurance or a probation officer.

"I kept doing what I was doing until I got one and actually that was the best thing that could have happened to me."

She was in and out of jail in 2005 and 2006 on charges including theft and probation violations

That was until programs like the Backyard Mosaic Women's Project helped her piece her life back together.

"Being with the Mosaic just gave me a different outlet to express myself. I was never judged or condemned about anything I did—just embraced and accepted," Jones said.

Julia Weaver is a co-facilitator of the project geared towards women returning to their families and communities after incarceration.

She said it is a support group and a community arts project for the women.

"They just feel normal again. Incarceration wears you down and has a tendency to dehumanize you on some levels," Weaver said.

She started at St. Mark's Church seven years ago. Now, the group is at St. John's Lutheran Church—making broken glass into art, making broken lives whole.

 "I would really like to see murals and three-dimensional artwork all over Madison," Weaver said. "We can have a bus tour for the Backyard Mosaic Project."

Jones' children are living with her again and she's been sober for nearly four years.

"I severed all relationships to the people I knew and just found a better way of living," she said.

Jones hopes that better way of living will make up for lost time with her family, especially for her youngest son.

"He grabbed me by my face and he said, ‘Look at me.' I said, ‘What, Jeremy?' ‘Promise me you'll never run those streets again.' And he had tears in his eyes. And I told him I won't. I said, ‘I promise I won't.'"

Jones says she hopes sharing her experience with her children will help them make better decisions in their own lives.

She also goes back to the drug treatment facility she went to in  order to share her inspiring story.

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