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It was a lifetime ago. But Lindsey’s vivid memories have a haunting half-life. Like Lange, and many of the other women in 6M1B, Lindsey’s charges revolved mostly around drugs and prostitution. She spent years cycling in and out of jails and prisons trying to regain control over her life. Finally, in May of 1998, she managed to get off crack.
It took another two years to cleanse her life of sex work, but she did that too. Then she decided to dedicate her life to helping others. She put herself through school, became a certified recovery coach, and began piecing together a new life. Her first job in the field paid so little that she came close – this close, she says, holding her pointer finger an inch from her thumb – to picking up a quick job in a hotel room.
The bills stacked up. White envelopes, then pink and yellow. She wondered how she was going to keep the lights on for her and her children.
But she held strong. And now as a coach for the county’s re-entry program, she shares coping mechanisms with Lange and the other inmates in 6M1B.
Lindsey has high hopes for Lange and the others. But it’s yet to be seen whether therapy and life-skills training will be enough to help the population of 6M1B – and in particular, its transgender women. Re-entry is hard for any inmate who’s spent months behind bars. And for trans women, the outside world is even harsher: There are fewer jobs, fewer halfway houses, fewer places and people to help turn a life around.
“We as a nation are in a re-entry movement,” says Lindsey’s boss, Jennifer Herring, the social worker who directs the re-entry programs.