The Need and Our Impact
The Maury County Jail currently houses an average of about 100 female inmates at any one time, with approximately 1,500 women coming through our facility each year. The vast majority of the women we see have experienced physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, both as children and as adults. Most started misusing drugs and/or alcohol at a young age—often as early as 10 years old.
Although state and federal prisons generally have numerous programs to help inmates in their rehabilitation, county jails most often do not. While inmates don’t stay in county jails as long as they do prisons, we have many who spend at least three months with us, and many others stay 6 months to a year and sometimes much longer. As most of our inmates suffer with some form of drug or alcohol addiction, this time in jail is for many the first time in a long time that they have been clean and sober. We have an amazing opportunity to reach women during their time with us and to have a positive impact, helping them heal from their negative life experiences and preparing them to begin new, positive, healthy, and productive lives.
Our impact extends far beyond the walls of the jail, however. Almost all of the women who come through our jail have children. When we help women live healthy, productive lives, we are also positively changing the lives of their children and other family members, helping to break family cycles of addiction, domestic violence, poverty, and incarceration.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Childhood Experiences have a huge impact on lifelong issues of physical and emotional health. A recent survey of our female jail residents found that 80% had a score of 6 or higher on the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) questionnaire, with many scoring as high as 8 or 9. ACEs looks at 10 types of childhood trauama, including: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; living with a family member who’s addicted to alcohol or other substances, or who’s depressed or has other mental illnesses; experiencing parental divorce or separation; having a family membler who’s incarcerated, and witnessing a mother being abused. The CDC reports that ACE scores of 4 or higher are correlated with an elevated risk for a number of negative health and behavioral issues, including depression, diabetes, obesity, suicide attempts, heart disease, alcoholism, and drug use.