Campaign helps female inmates reintegrate into society

If you have a pile of clothes sitting in your closet unworn, St. Thomas University’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Department has the place for them.

Criminology and criminal justice students are collecting gently-used clothing, shoes and purses to help reintegrate female inmates into society upon their release.

STUnningly Successful aims to address many issues women face when reintegrating into society. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

The STUnningly Successful Campaign started as a project in Susan Reid’s children and youth at risk class. The campaign is in its second year and is supported by the contemporary issues in criminal justice class.

Denise Billings, a criminology and psychology graduate of 2017 and social work student, worked with her class group to get donations.

“I had two or three other group members and we kind of came up with this idea. I work at a retail establishment, so I thought it might be fairly easy to get some old clothes that they can’t sell,” said Billings.

The STUnningly Successful Campaign started as a project in Susan Reid’s children and youth at risk class. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

Through social media and word of mouth, Billings and her group worked to gain donations from the public.

Autumn Locke, a social work student, is helping to organize the campaign this year. She hopes to see the campaign continue for years to come.

“I think it’s looking like an annual initiative, ultimately we’d like quite a bit of clothes but not too much, because they have to be transported to Miramichi,” said Locke.

STUnningly Successful aims to address many issues women face when reintegrating into society, considering things like changes in weather, different clothing styles and appropriate clothing.

“If they come in shorts and a T-shirt and they have to make a court appearance, it’s not really considered appropriate court attire. So, having extra clothes, it gives them the ability to go to court as well as when they’re getting out, going and finding jobs — giving them that extra support and confidence that they need,” said Billings.

Criminology and criminal justice students are collecting gently-used clothing, shoes and purses to help reintegrate female inmates into society upon their release. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

“We’re just trying to support that reintegration,” said Locke.

The clothing will be transported to Miramichi where an event will be held at the Women’s Centre on March 23. There, women can look through the clothing, try items on and get opinions from others.

“It’ll be set up like a shopping centre kind of deal and the women can go in and pick which clothes they want to based on sizes,” said Locke.

“Last year we had it so the perimeter of the room had tables, and we had clothes folded on the tables, we had some hanging up. It did look like a store and we had it decorated,” said Billings.

“It was really cool to see.”

The campaign has collected three garbage bags full of clothing so far. Donations can be made to Susan Reid’s office in Brian Mulroney Hall 401 or dropped off at the James Dunn Hall student help desk. A drop-off-centre in Miramichi is also being considered. Donations must be made by March 20.

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