The female residents of the Westchester County Department of Correction (WCDOC) enjoyed a special visit from award-winning author, CNN Hero and founder of A Better Way of Life, Susan Burton. Burton visited the Westchester County Jail and shared excerpts from her new book, BECOMING MS. BURTON: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women. 

Commissioner of WCDOC Joseph K. Spano said: “By all accounts, having Ms. Burton interact with our female residents was inspiring and sure to help them focus on actions that are vitally important to support positive changes in their lives. I can’t thank her enough for providing this unique opportunity for our residents, who got to hear from a renowned author and credible messenger whose personal story of triumph in overcoming obstacles resulted in a successful transition to society. Sharing her story with incarcerated women serves as a vision of hope for individuals who have many struggles and is greatly appreciated by all of us at WCDOC.”

Burton also shared details about how she spent 20 years of her life cycling in and out of the prison system, while battling substance abuse and mental health issues. She highlighted the tools and services that aided positive changes in her life, and helped pave the way for her to become the person that she is today. The 40 female residents in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to hear Burton’s success story, and asked many questions about her life journey. Each female resident in the care of WCDOC also received a signed copy of Burton’s book.

During the group discussion, Burton said: “Every single day women are released from jails and prisons and are left to fend for themselves in a society that can be unfamiliar and unforgiving. I founded A Better Way of Life to provide resources and support for formerly incarcerated people reentering society, so we can break the harsh cycle of recidivism and provide people a second chance at life. I am immensely proud that today, we serve 18 states and have provided reentry services to nearly 12,000 formerly incarcerated people.”

Attending female resident Yasmin Talbot said: “I’m inspired by the visit from Ms. Burton, and taken back by the exceptional team work and effort that the staff at WCDOC takes to help inmates like myself who are struggling.”

First Deputy Commissioner Nory Padilla said: “Events like this, in which residents hear from role models and credible messengers, are very meaningful and should definitely help our residents successfully transition back to their communities. In particular, I feel that this engagement helped our residents understand how to implement actionable steps toward achieving personal goals that can translate to a better life path for them and their families.”

WCDPC is considered a national leader in the space, recognized for its robust rehabilitation program system and accreditation certifications through the American Correctional Association, the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare and the Prison Rape Elimination Act.