Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Hampshire Union Leader: "Daughters and moms benefit from 'Girl Scouts Beyond Bars' program"

New Hampshire's Union Leader reports that Girl Scout Troop 10065 hold their meetings at the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown, and their leaders are their incarcerated mothers, assisted by Girl Scout volunteers.

They are part of a program called Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, which was established in 1992 in partnership with the National Institute of Justice. It is the second year in the program for the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains. The 14 girls range in age from 6 to 15, and are from both New Hampshire and Vermont.

The goals of Girl Scouts Beyond Bars are to lessen the effect of parental separation due to incarceration, to foster the personal and social development of girls and their mothers, and to provide girls with the opportunity to participate with their parents in the Girl Scout experience.

According to Pastor Beth Richeson, chaplain for the prison, there are many benefits for both the inmates and their daughters.

“This program benefits girls by helping to keep family bonds,” she said. “For some, this is the only time they get to see their moms. It also acts as an incentive for good behavior for the women.”

Patricia Mellor, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, said it's important for girls to know that they have choices and that they don't have to follow in their mother's footsteps.

“Through Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, they also get to see their mothers as leaders, something they may never have seen before,” Mellor said.

Girls also meet outside the prison, Mellor said, to give them a well-rounded scouting experience, and many attend summer camp.

“We're so committed to this program,” Mellor said, adding that because of GSBB, girls not only have more reasons to stay out of prison, but develop the confidence and skills they need to make that a reality.