December 16, 2003
Girl Scouts visit mothers in prison
The Associated Press
WILSONVILLE - Women serving time in prison are getting a chance to see their daughters and nieces more often, thanks to a Girl Scouts program.
The national Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program includes Brownies and Girl Scouts ages 5 to 17, said Cathy Morris, assistant executive director of the Girl Scouts of Santiam Council based in Salem.
``I think this is the best program the Girl Scouts offer,'' she said. ``This program really makes a difference. The girls get to see their moms in a more normal situation. The girls can touch their moms, which they can't do in a regular visiting situation.''
The inmate mothers and aunts lead meetings for the girls twice a month in the multipurpose rooms of the medium and minimum security sections of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville.
The program costs about $300 a year for each girl. Most of the money goes to transport the girls from their homes to the prison while the rest goes toward educational supplies and T-shirts.
But there is not enough funding for the girls to have Scout uniforms.
Thyanna Doyle, 10, recently visited her mother, Rebecca Doyle, 31, at the prison.
``Now I get to see her more often because I didn't see her much when she wasn't in here,'' Thyanna said.
Doyle said she is delighted with how the program has helped her become a better parent and reconnect with the girls.
``When they come, I see how we're rebuilding our mother-daughter bond,'' said Doyle, who is overcoming a drug problem and serving time for being a felon in possession of a firearm and unauthorized use of a vehicle. She expects to be released in four months.
Susan Hayes, manager of Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, said the program helps re-establish and maintain strong family ties.
``Children who lose their primary caregiver undergo emotional trauma,'' she said. ``We try to reduce that by encouraging relationships between the girls and their mothers.''