At prisoner reentry conference, woman breaks down in tears over second chance


Nicole Freeman, a former prisoner at Hudson County jail, tearfully thanked Same Sky America and Most Excellent Way yesterday for regaining custody of her children and getting a second chance at life.


“I have joint custody off my children as a result of this, it still gives me the opportunity to have this connection that I lost for nine months while I was incarcerated.”

Same Sky America, in partnership with the women of the Most Excellent Way Life Center, provides training and employment to ex-offenders to create hand crafted jewelry for the Same Sky Benefit Collection.

The crafted pieces that are sold in America and across the world help female victims of the genocide in Rwanda.

Freeman admitted that being employed at Same Sky has helped her find “tranquility in life” and it has also assisted in her sobriety for one-and-a-half years.

The importance of services available, specifically to female offenders looking to find their place in societ, was discussed at the 3rd annual Prisoner Reentry Conference at St Peter’s University.

Sheila A. Venable, a Hudson County Superior Court judge in the criminal division, pointed out that bail reforms will be effective on January 1, 2017. The new system will be based on risk assessment rather than monetary.

This addresses the problem that most prisoners with minor crimes cannot be released because they do not have the money to post bail.

“They will be able to be out with their families and the criteria is that they are not a danger to society and that they will appear in court,” she explained during yesterday’s all female panel.

“That I believe will help them and their families where someone may not lose their jobs where they are working because they are incarcerated.”

Employment is crucial for women in reentry, especially for those who have children so they can begin to build a stable income. Same Sky is happy to lend a helping hand in this regard.

“Same Sky, in partnership with Most Excellent Way, is giving women ex-offenders a real, credible alternative to being trapped in the loop between jail and the streets,” said Francine LeFrak, founder of Same Sky.

“And its working, the women who participate in our program are taking that alternative; the recidivism rate for Same Sky Artisans is zero.”

Furthermore, LeFrak was proud to reflect on Freeman’s success story.

“And the judge was so impressed with the work that she did, he took the bracelet of her ankle and dropped the charges against her.”

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