JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — An author known for her work with incarcerated women and a nationally known businesswoman have chosen a Mississippi women’s facility to launch a re-entry workshop using principles routinely applied in the corporate world.
Deborah Jiang-Stein and Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive Global, co-founder of Huffington Post and also an author, sponsored the four-hour Thrive Live workshop at the Rankin County satellite facility in Flowood.
Jiang-Stein, whose story of being born in prison is captured in her book Prison Baby: A Memoir, said Mississippi’s prison system was a perfect fit for the pilot program. She previously visited Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl and features the prison in a video about her work for which she was named a 2017 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honoree.
“The culture of openness and progressive approach to new programming that I have experienced through MDOC and their hospitality in welcoming my past visits made (it) a perfect location,” said Jiang-Stein, founder of the unPrison Project. “The number of incarcerated women has risen 800 percent over the last 20 years, twice that of males. That makes this a timely collaboration between unPrison and Thrive Global.”
Jiang-Stein and Kim Fulcher, a facilitator for Thrive Global from San Francisco, Calif., spoke to 30 female inmates on Friday. The session was the first time Fulcher said she had applied the strategies with offenders, as most of Thrive Global’s clients are in the corporate environment.
“I was very impressed with the camaraderie and the support the women had for each other,” Fulcher said. “Their enthusiasm is inspirational. The women really want this information, and I think it was a very positive experience for them. They can take these skills and make their lives better.”
According to MDOC, there are 1,988 women incarcerated now compared to 1,406 in March 2008.
The workshops focus on physical well-being, wisdom, connection, and purpose.
Inmate Helen Kellar was among one of those attending the workshop.
“I have been in and out of prison several times, but programs like this were not offered when I was here before,” said Kellar, 63, who is incarcerated for possession of a controlled substance with intent. “I have been through ‘Thinking for a Change’ and now this. It all means so much. This time when I get out, I’m not coming back.”