Women in Recovery: Why the Program works
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Published: 23-Mar-2011

Editor’s note: Today in the Blue Room of the Oklahoma state Capitol, Women in Recovery held a graduation ceremony for 12 women. The program has been covered extensively by CapitolBeatOK. With her permission, we are posting the prepared text of WIR director Mimi Tarrasch’s speech explaining how and why the program works in diverting non-violent women offenders from incarceration into productive lives as taxpayers, mothers and citizens.

Tarrasch’s speech follows:

 It takes many things to be a successful graduate of the Women in Recovery (WIR) program.

 You must be in compliance with the courts, you must be in compliance with your supervising agency be it court services or probation and parole, you must have successfully completed all 6 phases of the program, be employed, either be reunified with your children or have a reunification plan in place, understand healthy relationships, have a GED if you didn’t when entering the program, have rebuild family relationships, you are living in safe housing, are sober and drug free, have a new social network, are current on your evaluation, have a recovery plan in place, have a bank account and maybe even a savings account, have a community support group, a sponsor.

 You have to be free of criminal thinking, take responsibility, think differently, parent differently, have a new and strong work ethic, know grounding tools, be self-confident, you have to know how to hold yourself accountable and others accountable, you have to be familiar with your community resources, where to go for help, how to stand up for yourself, how to take care of yourself, and how to maintain a safe and sober life. You have to know right from wrong.

 The design of this program was not meant to be easy. It is highly structured, demanding, controlled, and rigorous. Some have chosen not to participate because it is hard, yet each of the 12 graduates can proudly say that they were determined to meet the challenge due to their commitment to change.

 And change they did. …

 So I want to close by just mentioning a few significant bragging points about today’s graduates and just some of their collective statistics so that you truly have some idea as to what they have been doing this past year.

 11 out of 12 have children (a combined total of 28) and have spent 3,432 hours in parenting class.

 1,248 hours in individual parenting consultation 13,508 dedicated hours towards reunification.

 How about 1,296 UA’s (urine analyses) and 12 out of 12 are in safe housing.

 In an attempt to address the trauma that has been experienced, 1,152 hours of trauma group counseling has been provided, with over 4,500 hours of group therapy (this doesn’t include process groups or individual counseling).

 12 out of 12 have their GED or HS diploma- devoting over 420 in class hours. One has a college degree and a second is starting college soon.

12 out of 12 have their food handler’s cards and are skilled in food safety and nutrition.

 10 out of 12 have their driver’s license and own transportation. 12 out of 12 know the Tulsa transit system implicitly.

 They have dedicated 450 hours to volunteering in their community.

 Our 12 graduates alone have dedicated over 1,800 hours to recovery-oriented meetings.

 11 out of 12 are employed with one in school full time, and they have contributed $8, 057 in taxes.

 4 have received a raise or promotion since starting work And over 11, 640 hours have been spent in program-related activities. …

 This was no easy feat. All of this was accomplished for the same cost of one year in prison yet please know that these women were facing significant sentences by far greater than one year.

 It brings me pleasure … that women are now afforded this opportunity and have a much better future ahead of them. 

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