Releasing Hope: Stories of Transition from Prison to Community

(1 customer review)


edited by Ruth Elwood Martin, Mo Korchinski, Lynn Fels, and Carl Leggo

Print: 978-1-77133-705-2 – $29.95
Accessible ePub: 978-1-77133-706-9 – $18.99
PDF: 978-1-77133-708-3 – $18.99

422 Pages
November 25, 2019

Releasing Hope was born out of the first book Arresting Hope, which describes participatory health research and the experience of women incarcerated inside a British Columbian provincial correctional centre from 2005 to 2007. Readers of Arresting Hope, moved by the stories written by incarcerated women, asked, “What happened next?” And, “How are the women doing, now that they are released from prison?” Starting in 2007, women who were released from prison formed a network called Women in2 Healing because they wished to continue participatory health research in the community. Their overarching research question was, “How can we improve the health of women in prison and following their release?” Releasing Hope describes the journeys of formerly incarcerated women and their encounters with the barriers (financial, emotional, familial, systemic) that they confronted during their reintegration in the community. Releasing Hope touches on the stories of individual women and the learning from participatory health research that made visible their lives, their hopes, their dreams and fears.

“Anyone interested in women imprisoned or the value of participatory action research will find this book inspiring. Incarcerated women speak clearly and movingly of the challenges in their lives, and the value of the meaningful opportunities they were given to help themselves and others move beyond addictions, grief, and loss, to reflection, forgiveness, and productive lives. They share with us, the reader, their connection to their families and children and ultimately offer insight into the remarkable sameness we share as human beings and how we find meaning in our lives. Nine-in-ten women in Canada who go to jail do so for less than six months. Anyone reading this book can surely not help but reflect on how meaningful change came about for these women—in the community, engaged with others—actively addressing the problems in their lives. Releasing Hope illustrates the value of giving individuals the opportunity to have control over the determinants of their health and ultimately their lives.”
—Shawn Bayes, Executive Director, Elizabeth Fry Society of the Greater Vancouver

“The book addresses the difficult journeys women face when released from prison and shows that in our current society, sentences do not stop upon release. The women’s stories illustrate this in a sometimes shocking and sad, sometimes encouraging and hopeful, but always very open and honest way. It gives us a true insight into the lives of women released from prison. Great initiatives have been started to help women return to their life in the community in a way in which they can thrive and do well. Participatory health research as well as peer health mentoring are of great value in the period after release and should be conducted on a much broader scale across the world. I highly recommend reading this book to gain a deeper understanding of the reality women face upon their release from prison and of the ways in which we all have an important role in helping them on their journey to freedom.”
—Brenda van den Bergh, Health Department, DIGNITY Danish Institute against Torture, Denmark

“No one sets out for a life of social exclusion, stigma, shame, or incarceration. The generous sharing of and learnings from these deeply impactful stories compiled by the editors are testimonials to the determination and courage of these women. They clearly express what women need to thrive outside the prison gates and the content will be of enormous value to policy makers, clinicians, system planners, and leaders. As health care providers, we are called to eliminate suffering and restore people to wholeness. The peer health mentors featured in these stories set a standard for everyone that cares about restoring the dignity of the whole person. We are compelled to act by their rich example of Cultural Safety and Humility in action. As a provider of health services to people in BC provincial corrections facilities, we will proudly use this book and the first, Arresting Hope, to guide our policy development, programming, and service delivery, and celebrate the team responsible for the research and their continued efforts to advocate for this population. Releasing Hope is a must read for people that need or want their heart stirred, their mind stimulated, and their soul refreshed. In these stories, you will see and hear very courageous women and perhaps think of many like them who can change their lives when empathy, trust, compassion, care, and companionship are a clear and present feature. The simple truth of it all is where there is love there is healing, where there is healing there is strength to face the challenges ahead and to sustain hope for tomorrow.”
—Carl Roy, President and CEO, British Columbia Provincial Health Services Authority

“Releasing Hope gives amazing glimpses of anguish and triumph—of women released from prison—one who makes it after thirty years of addiction. Journal entries and poems are interspersed with observations from the physician who treated the women in prison and now guides a novel “Participatory Research” project with former inmates as co-editors and authors. They can write! Some have moved on to degrees and decent jobs. The social scientist in me asks, can this program be tried in other places?”
—Lynn McDonald, professor emerita, University of Guelph, published author in criminology, and co-founder of the Campaign for the Abolition of Solitary Confinement

Releasing Hope: Stories of Transition from Prison to Community

Ruth Elwood Martin worked as family physician in Vancouver from 1983 to 2009; she also worked part-time in the medical clinics of BC correctional centres for men and women for seventeen years. She is a Clinical Professor of the School of Population and Public Health, University British Columbia, and an Associate Faculty of the Department of Family Practice. Her experiences as a prison physician participatory health researcher during the time period of Arresting Hope changed her, such that her goal became to foster the improvement of prison health and to engage patients’ voices in the process. She co-founded the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education, which is a group committed to encouraging and facilitating collaborative opportunities for health, education, research, service, and advocacy, to enhance the social well-being and (re)integration of individuals in custody, their families, and communities. From 2011 to 2017, she served as Chair of the Prison Health Communities of Practice Group of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Ruth continues to live and work in Vancouver, BC.

Since writing Arresting Hope/Releasing Hope, Mo Korchinski is now a proud member of society. She graduated in 2014 from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology with her Bachelor of Social Work degree and works as a project manager with the project Unlocking the Gates to Health peer health mentor program at the University of British Columbia. She spends most of her spare time helping others in her community and she feels that the key to turning one’s life around and keeping it moving in the right direction is to help others turn their lives around. She co-directed several documentary films, which are about individuals’ release from prison, and when the prison gate is unlocked, but the doors to society are kept locked. Her passion is to take her experience of addiction and the justice system and show people that changes are needed: to get the voices of women who are still inside prison heard; and, to get policy-makers to understand that change is needed in the prison system and in the communities. She lives in Vancouver and is a proud grandmother to two beautiful granddaughters, who have taught her what unconditional love is.

Lynn Fels is an Associate Professor at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada, and former Academic Editor of Educational Insights, an open-access journal that reimagines curriculum, research and education (www.educationalinsights.ca). With George Belliveau, she co-authored Exploring Curriculum: Performative Inquiry, Role Drama and Learning (Pacific Educational Press, 2008), and has also authored numerous articles and chapters exploring performative inquiry, arts across the curriculum, and curriculum as lived experience. Alongside Ruth, Carl and Mo, she is co-editor of Arresting Hope: Women Taking Action in Prison Inside Out (2014). She is co-investigator in a five year SSHRC Partnership Grant, researching arts for social change in Canada.

Carl Leggo was a poet and professor at the University of British Columbia. His books include: Come-By-Chance; Lifewriting as Literary Métissage and an Ethos for Our Times (co-authored with Erika Hasebe-Ludt and Cynthia Chambers); Creative Expression, Creative Education (co-edited with Robert Kelly); A Heart of Wisdom: Life Writing as Empathetic Inquiry (co-edited with Cynthia Chambers, Erika Hasebe-Ludt, and Anita Sinner); Sailing in a Concrete Boat; Arresting Hope: Prisons That Heal (co-edited with Ruth Martin, Mo Korchinski, and Lynn Fels); Arts-based and Contemplative Practices in Research and Teaching: Honoring Presence (co-edited with Susan Walsh and Barbara Bickel); Hearing Echoes (co-authored with Renee Norman); Poetic inquiry: Enchantment of Place (co-edited with Pauline Sameshima, Alexandra Fidyk, and Kedrick James); and Provoking Curriculum Studies: Inspiration/Imagination/Interconnection (co-edited with Erika Hasebe-Ludt).

Invitation to Readers
The Editors Are Beset by Questions
i. Release
ii. Women in2 Healing
iii. Health Goals
Hope: Interlude One
iv. Mentoring
v. Preventive Health
vi. Indigenous Healing
Hope: Interlude Two
vii. Mothers, Babies, and Children
viii. Education
ix. Ways Forward
Final Reflections
Who We Are

1 review for Releasing Hope: Stories of Transition from Prison to Community

  1. Kathryn Gingell

    An eye-opening, moving, and inspiring book. This collection of stories gives an unprecedented window into the barriers facing women as they are released from prison. I highly recommend this book.

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