Some people make a tidal wave of change, where the rest of us just see an overwhelming need. Susan Burton's achievements leave me awestruck and inspired to know what we can do for Savannah.
What We Need to About Poverty and Violence Now
Becoming Miss Burton shows how a woman who found help with her pain and addictions found strength to turn her opportunities into a way to help scores of others. You can't read Becoming Miss Burton without feeling like there is something that each of us has to do to end the cycle of poverty, violence and incarceration in America.
Every chapter begins with a statistic (click for statistics from Becoming Miss Burton about incarcerated women and their children). Each statistic highlights how poverty, drugs, violence and incarceration are crippling millions in this country. Many of these statistics focus on how impoverished women have been victimized and the ripple effects this has had.
Are there women and children in Savannah being affected by poverty and violence? Of course there are. Is there something we can do to help? Of course there is.
Help Women Build the Families They Want Back
Anyone convicted of a felony is not eligible for public housing anywhere in America. Whether the sentence is 1 year or 100 years, a convicted felon is ineligible for public housing, even after completing her required time and public service.
For example, a woman caught with 2 oz. of marijuana in Georgia can be arrested and sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. After 1 - 10 years in prison where she has no income, she will be released indigent and ineligible for public housing. If she entered jail with a child or children, those children will be without a parent throughout their mother's incarceration. When she completes here sentence, she will still not be able to get custody of her children until she can secure housing.
Anyone who is convicted of a crime punishable with a jail sentence of 12 months or more in Georgia is deemed a felon (source). Without housing, she will be unable to get back her children. You can find a longer list of felonies in Georgia here.
I am sure that foster parents and orphanages can offer a tremendous amount to children. But it is hard to see how they can ever replace a mother, if that mother has reformed her attitude and behavior following any conviction.
Building a Place of Hope for Women Who Want to Rebuild Their Families in Savannah
Becoming Miss Burton shares the story of a woman who made a difference by making it easier for women to put their lives together following incarceration. Is there a need for a place for women to go after a felony in Savannah? Are their people who would raise better children if there was a place in Savannah for women to go while transitioning to life after a felony conviction?
Please let us know in the comments below.