"Reborn", Day 1
It is 6:30 AM on February 5th. Angelica, Bibi's mother, and Agustina, Bibi's Grandmother, wait for Bibi outside of Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in New Jersey. A corrections van pulls up and both Mother and Daughter explode from their seats to greet each other. "All I wanted was to look at her face, and all she wanted was to pull me closer," recalls Bibi. Angelica visited Bibi every weekend for the past thirteen years. She has been Bibi's pillar of support during this period.
Bibi has a lot to come home to. A mother who will make space for her at home, and a grandmother who lives in the same building. Bibi received an associates degree while at Edna Mahon, and is enrolled at Rutgers in the fall. She has done everything she can to set herself up for success right away. "I feel reborn today," Bibi says in the car.
This is a story of one woman's experience entering back into society after time spent in prison. Unfortunately, the cards are stacked against her. Recidivism rates are high for females (though not nearly as high as for men), and many return from violation of parole. Although Bibi made her way to the parole office immediately, the right officer was not available to see her. This is just the beginning of a series in minor frustrations that Bibi will have to endure to begin her new life.
"What I missed the most while I was in prison was space and choices. Reentry is claiming back the choices that make me feel alive again. To go running in the morning with no destination. To spend time listening to my grandmother's stories. Reentry is reaffirming my voice, and that I am visible even if I'm the only one that can see me. I know I will go through massive obstacles, but I must embrace the new person I have become.
I have learned a deep capacity to rise despite life's uppercuts. To fall is part of the human condition. To gain strength and insight from failure is part of a warrior's spirit. No cage can contain that."
Please stand by, there will be more entries and additions soon.