By Cassandra Marie
In: NV-CURE Informational Bulletin (IB) Nr 21 (January 2017)
Cassandra and Jamie, sisters, come from loving parents and a loving home. Jamie was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 10-25 years in prison. That was the beginning of our experience with the prison system. We obtained approval to visit and discussed the things we could do to make a difference. Jamie has been incarcerated for nearly 10 years now.
With 2.3 million people incarcerated in our country and a 68% recidivism rate, we came up with a concept to follow people as they left prison. Where would they go, what would they do, and who would they hang out with? I started documenting women leaving FMWCC more than 3 years ago. I called the project After Orange. I have witnessed a variety of behaviors from the women I’ve interviewed and followed. From reconnecting with friends and family, going to Hope For Prisoners, turning to prostitution, and dipping back into old behaviors. We have learned of the many problems and issues in and around the NDOC.
One of these issues is the unanswered demand for housing when women are released. On November 1st, 2016, I opened “After Orange: Halfway Home”, a nonprofit transitional home for women being released from prison. We also documented a series about the women’s journey through and after their incarceration. We had a desire to help women who are ready to change their lives, partnering with community organizations like Hope For Prisoners, LV Urban League, FIT, Larson’s Training Center, NV CURE, God Behind Bars, LV Public Defenders, The Metropolitan Police Department, Private Practicing Lawyers, Department of Parole and Probation, and The District Attorney’s office. We bring trauma healing experts into our home and we’ve cultivated a healthy daily program with a set curfew, daily house meetings, house maintenance, substance abuse meetings, spiritual avenues, and structured life mapping to help women live their absolute best lives while giving back to their community. There is accountability in our home, primarily driven by our residents keeping each other in check.
After Orange: Halfway Home is only for women who want to live their absolute best lives. Our vision of helping female ex-offenders is taking shape. My sister and I are committed to bringing positive change to the prison culture in our country. Jamie goes to the parole board this March 2017, and upon release, she will be assisting to move this project forward from the outside.
The women from After Orange Halfway Home have been volunteering for NV CURE, helping with office duties and are very happy to give back to their community. If you are a woman inmate interested in living at our home, please write a 250 word statement about your story and why you’re ready to live your absolute best life and send it to NV CURE, Attn: After Orange Halfway House, 540 E. St. Louis Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89104. We will send you an application and look forward to hearing from you. Please spread the word.