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Prison Break: The Sister Who Helps Mothers in Jail

NextTribe mothers in jail

Suzanne Jabro, a nun at Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, has started a special delivery service. Jabro became concerned about the lack of contact between incarcerated mothers and their children after speaking with female prisoners in the late 1990s and hearing the pleas for more face time.

She promised to do something to help these families, and in 1999, she took a brilliant idea on the road. Along with other members of the faith community, she raised funds, and the first free “Get on the Bus” Express left. It transported 15 children and other family members to see their loved ones who were serving time in Chowchilla prison, several hours from Los Angeles. It’s a trip that would have been difficult and expensive to make otherwise.

The time spent bonding was invaluable, both for the kids who opted in and the parents, who must have stellar behavior to be allowed a visit. The program grew throughout California. This past year, over 1,000 children were transported to see their mothers and fathers, and activities like picture-taking and face-painting were part of the day.

Jabro says the experience helps children feel more connected to their families, and studies show that young people who spend time with relatives in prison are less likely to commit crimes. What’s more, prisoners who are visited by family members while incarcerated are less likely to return to jail after release. We think this Sister Act is worth a round of applause.

Janet Siroto


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