Diane Hunt, Executive Director and CEO
I recently participated in a Changed Choices Volunteer Orientation led by Gail Clark (Director of Volunteer Care). She shared some interesting statistics and I thought more people needed to know about them. Since the start of the pandemic, at least 47 inmates have died from COVID-19, while more than 9,500 have been infected, according to state Department of Public Safety data. Nearly 1/4 of the 39,000 inmates tested since March 2020 received at least one positive diagnosis.
On February 24th, there was an announcement about the agreement between NC civil rights groups and Governor Cooper’s Office that will allow for the release of 3.500 men and women from NC State Prisons in the next six months. This would amount to about a 12.5% reduction in the state incarcerated population. This agreement was driven by the living conditions caused by the pandemic.
Did you know that in some facilities, women have been allowed out of their rooms one hour a day and for some it was one hour a few times a week? Keep that one hour in mind because it is going to be important for our virtual Her Walk to Freedom in April.
Now, I suspect you are wondering if any of these 3.500 early releases will include Changed Choices clients. Well, to be honest, we are wondering the same thing. Two clients were released early before the announcement; we are already actively engaged with them.
We are praying for God’s wisdom as we prepare for the women we expect to be released this year while we keep a watchful eye on the horizon. We don’t typically get much advance notice of an early release–and sometimes it’s a phone call with a voice on the other end saying, “I was released yesterday.” We want to be prepared so we can ensure that each woman gets the full support she needs and deserves.
Thank you for caring about the women we serve, in and out of prison.