We currently offer four unique programs for women behind and beyond prison walls – all of which teach transformational tools of community building, communication skills, creativity and self-care. Our programs provide opportunities for personal growth and healing from past trauma through truth telling in safe communities.
Our programs are designed by women for women, and address a documented service gap in women’s correctional facilities for gender-responsive programs and practices.
We facilitate this series in two different curriculum formats in two different prisons and we find that they both work very well.
This 16-week series consists of three classes, with a goal of 15 new members, and 1-2 mentors, each semester. We hold two semesters per calendar year. We offer three modalities that students can choose from. All class members track their life experiences on a graph, called a “life line” and learn to journal about their feelings around sharing their stories with others.
A six week program: Having developed a deeper sense of trust, graduates shift their focus from the past to the present, engaging in writing, impromptu speaking and creative play to increase their discovery and understanding of themselves, others, and the world outside. They continue to improve their communication skills and deepen the network of support they began developing in the Talk To Me classes.
This class also concludes with a graduation ceremony as described above.
Pay It Forward is a peer-led monthly program at the Lane Murray Unit, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice maximum security unit in Gatesville, Texas. Pay It Forward provides an ongoing support group for alumni of Truth Be Told’s (TBT) Talk to Me (TTM) programs. In 2016, participants who committed to a year-long series (Talk to Me and Living Deeper and Freer) expressed the desire to stay in community and continue their transformational work. Together, with the TBT facilitators, they co-created Pay it Forward. Each Pay It Forward class features activities which continue to build on TBT’s core transformational tools: Community Building, Communication Skills, Creativity and Caring for Self.
When former class members leave prison, Truth Be Told encourages the women to stay involved and join our Beyond Bars peer-led programs. When they contact us, we hold their first “participant check-in.” This is a time for us to ask them about how they are doing and to reengage the tools they have been introduced to on the inside. Participants receive a Welcome Home Packet that includes information about how they can stay involved in programs, as well as a TRUTH bracelet to remind them of the work they did to create a healthy community.
We track their reentry progress and offer them support in the following ways:
Quilts are gifted to graduates of the Truth Be Told Program that have reached a 3-year milestone of living beyond prison and have stayed connected with the Truth Be Told community. Peggy Chandler, the mother of Truth Be Told founder Carol Waid, began the Quilt Project in early 2004. When asked what inspired her to want to make quilts for the women of our program she replied, “I love them, even though I don’t know them, because Carol loves them.” In 2003 she went to a graduation at the prison and as she heard the women’s stories, she realized “that they were just women, just people, who got into trouble and it could have easily been me.”
To learn more about Peggy and the story behind the quilt project, click here.