Message of Hope: Inspiring incarcerated women inside Meck. County Detention Center

A message of hope was shared inside the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 7:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - At the Mecklenburg County Detention Center are men and women of all ages. For some, it was a costly mistake that brought them to the detention center. It’s one they hope doesn’t define their life.

Meet Susan Burton.

She travels across the country, working to provide housing and support to formerly incarcerated women.

Recently, she was inside the detention center, sharing her story of incarceration and her book. Her visit was the last stop on her visit to Charlotte, which also featured Charlotte-native Tiawana Brown unveiling a home just for formerly incarcerated women in the area.

Both Burton and Brown have their own personal story of being incarcerated.

“They say when people get locked up they get locked out. And to have openings that are healthy, that are supportive, that have resources and services is really important. So it’s important for us to built opportunity for people when they leave prisons because it costs too much to keep locking them up. If it’s on an economic level. But on another level we lose the...on a spiritual level we lose what people are going to sow into our community. By not by keep locking them up and not allowing them to rehabilitate,” Burton said.

Burton is an author and advocate, traveling across the country, hoping to show women who are incarcerated there is life outside of these walls.

“It means the world to me to be able to come back and offer women that we kind of discarded to help to let them know how important they are and that you know, just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean your life is over. You can rebuild your life and to let them know that there is help and support to do that. From women who’ve been right where they’ve been,” she said.

Last month, Brown and her organization, Beauty After the Bars, opened a Sisterhood Alliance for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) home for formerly incarcerated women in the Charlotte area.

To hear this news was life changing for these women inside the detention center.

“Over 70% of women who are incarcerated, have been harmed and have never known what it is to have safety in their living environment. So to have a safe place to rebuild and start from is super, super important. So we are building safe houses all over the nation,” Burton said.

Brown added the work is now part of everyday life.

“This is all I do, anything for incarcerated women, and making sure that they have everything that they need. Everything I do is by design. I had my daughter in prison. I have two beautiful daughters. They’ve never ever been inside of this facility at all, just to hear me speak. But just think my daughter was born in prison and now her mom is giving back. Meeting the women right where they are,” Brown said.

Both Burton and Brown also answered questions from the women.

“I think I have what it takes to show people that you can do what I’ve done. I’m no different. I’ve been in the jumpsuit. I’ve been in the tennis shoes. I’ve been in the flip flops with the socks. I’ve taken a shower in those in those steel, those steel showers and you know move control movement. I know what it takes. And using my life story. I am them. They are me. When you see them. You see me when you see me you see them. That is what it’s truly about,” Brown said.

Once the visit came to an end, there was a shift inside for everyone.

“You know, I came here to inspire them and to offer them something different so the woman says she was inspired. I’m inspired, that she’s inspired. And I’m gonna go somewhere else and try to inspire again and again and again. But you know, just to have a little hope and inspiration can go a long way towards change,” Burton added.