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Beauty Behind Bars: How a Wisconsin prison salon helps rehabilitate women

Posted at 5:44 AM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 07:38:45-04

MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin prison in Fond du Lac is helping to rehabilitate women serving time in a prison salon.

Thirty-five-year-old Jennifer Miller from Green Bay and Forty-three-year-old Bridgett Davis from Eau Claire are serving time for drug-related crimes at Taycheedah Correctional Institution. They believe they are getting a second chance through a cosmetology program.

“My confidence is better; I have good confidence now,” said Miller.

Davis recalled, “It helped me to remember what my core beliefs were and integrity is one of them.”

Their instructor sitting next to them during the interview tells us many of the women come into the program feeling broken, and beauty can be a conduit to show them they can hold their heads high once again.

Miller says, “It's pretty exciting to get up for a day of school… makes you feel better about your situation and where you’re at.”

From nails to facials, makeup, cutting and coloring hair — this prison beauty school covers it all. After their final exams next month, they will have their state certifications for cosmetology.

Davis says, “I’m excited about being able to do something I have a career - I walked in the door with nothing."

“I plan to use my degree and do hair, be able to provide for my son and myself,” said Miller.

In the meantime, they are able to provide joy to fellow inmates by cutting and coloring their hair, “And when they leave here 90 percent of the time they’re smiling and they feel better,” Davis adds.

Programs like these are working. The Department of Justice shared a 2017 study that found prisoners who take part in educational programs like this one have 43-percent lower odds of returning to prison.

According to the Department of Corrections, this program is able to happen through a combination of funding. Moraine Park Technical College funds the certifications and curriculum materials. The Department of Corrections pays for the teacher’s salaries and supplies. Some of the DOC’s costs are offset by some of the services inmates must pay for themselves, such as getting their hair colored. A haircut is free.

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