Prison Program Reconnects Families Separated By Bars
OKLAHOMA CITY - Eleven years ago, she went to prison as an 18-year-old mother with not much hope. Now she's reconnecting with her daughter thanks to an Oklahoma prison program.
Canesha Green reluctantly discussed the circumstances that sent her to prison with a 30-year sentence.
"I made a big mistake of doin' something childish and immature by starting a fire," Green admitted.
That fire took someone's life, and Green was sentenced to 30 years. She was required to serve 11. Green's been out since December of 2010, and will be on active parole until the sentence is complete.
"You know, I led a very reckless life," Green said. "A life that I can't believe if I was just immediately released from prison I would've walked away from."
Green needed time to mature, to realize her mistakes and reconcile them. Her daughter, Miracle, was only 16 months old when she started her sentence.
Miracle is 13 years old now, but she remembers her younger years as very confusing.
"Talkin' to her through a glass, I was wondering why," Miracle said. "And then I realized when I got older that she was in prison."
Canesha's mother raised Miracle the last 11 years.
"You don't realize the consequences behind it," Green said. "But it has made a major affect on my family as well as someone else's."
Cheri Fuller is director of Redeeming the Family, an organization whose goal is keeping families affected by incarceration connected. She's worked with Canesha and her daughter, and believes strongly that the absence of a parent-child bond is harmful to children.
"We have the highest incarceration rate of women in the United States, and in the world," said Fuller. ""We have this huge population of children who are not growing up with their mothers. Because of that lack of connection, those kids often get in trouble themselves."
Canesha took parenting classes offered by Redeeming the Family during her incarceration and attributes her new outlook on life to the programs.
"Any program that allowed me to have some kinda interaction, I did," she said. " You have to establish a relation and you have to keep it. 'Cause the distance between, you can't let it affect you."