As Pretrial, Probation, and Parole Supervision Week Approaches Topeka K. Sam Offers Insight on Why the System Needs Overhauling
Date:  07-14-2017

Counterproductive policies can hinder 4.7 million Americans from achieving lawful and productive goals
From Open Society Foundations

I was released from prison two years and two months ago. Since then, I have been working to improve the lives of formerly incarcerated women and men.

I’ve received fellowships from Beyond the Bars and the Open Society Foundations, and was named a Justice in Education Scholar at Columbia University. I founded the Ladies of Hope Ministries , which helps women and girls transition from prison back into society through education, entrepreneurship, and advocacy. I am establishing Hope House, a re-entry housing development for women and girls. As a founding member and national organizer of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, I have crisscrossed the country organizing council chapters and creating symposiums at law schools nationwide.

Yet those who monitor my activities as part of my sentence still view me with suspicion and disdain. “Your constant travel is reminiscent of a drug dealer, Ms. Sam,” my probation officer’s supervisor said to me recently. I looked her in the eye and tried to resist feeling devalued, shamed, stigmatized, angry, and triggered. Despite the work I’ve done—work which has changed my life and helped me change the lives of others—the comment cut me to the core. Continue reading >>>