Why Holding Hope?
A woman released from prison was reflecting on our time working together while she was in custody and she said that I always communicated to them, that I knew without doubt that they could all move beyond lives of drug addiction and the crimes that support the desperate need for the relief gained from addiction.
This does not mean that everyone will survive or that everyone will become high achievers. It does mean that with the right support and opportunities everyone can become illicit drug and crime free. This idea that my job was quite simply to hold their hope until they could hold it for themselves was reinforced during my dissertation research. I explored the life history of a woman I worked with in prison for 7 years and then continued to journey with until her death from cancer another 7 years on. I tried to understand what underpinned her personal work from “most violent female in Canada” to volunteer in the federal prison for women and working with me in the maximum-security unit with women “just like her”.
There were many theories and psychological concepts that were important, and each told part of the story. But I kept coming back to her telling me that she knew she would never last more than six months in the community. Her life story was of removal from family to group homes, youth custody, provincial custody and finally federal custody, never had she gone more than 6 months from being inside some institution or another. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy that she lived into.
Holding hope with Lora that her life could be free from the justice system and that she could have purpose and contribute to others was the transitional work that she did, and I had the privilege to observe.
The resulting PhD dissertation is available to read as a pdf on the button below. Thank you for your interest.