Louisiana Criminal Justice: The Start of a Second Chance

By McKenzi Carter and Anijah Grant 

Life during and after incarceration continues to be an overlooked topic within the New Orleans community. Life in prison and after prison is no joke and people that are in these situations are just barely getting by.

Because of this issue, people being released from prisons have disorganized lives with little guidance upon their release. These people do not have the means to even think about how to get back on their feet all on their own after being locked up for an extended period of time. Close your eyes and imagine you have been locked up with no physical interactions to the outside world and all you have to go by is the bare minimum given to you by prison guards. Then one glorious day you are finally free. If this happens to a person, it should be one of the best days of their life, right?? But in most situations, this is not the case. Most of the time, people who have been incarcerated are terrified to be on their own because this means fighting for a new life that they know nothing about in a world that has moved on without them. 

Maryam Henderson-Uloho

One strong advocate for people impacted by incarceration in the New Orleans, Louisiana area is Ms. Maryam Henderson-Uloho. Ms. Henderson-Uloho spent many years in prison and experienced first hand what the trauma of being incarcerated can do to a person. She also experienced the hardships that came about when trying to adjust to the outside world that did not stop when she was locked away for many years. After learning the best ways to better herself and get back on her feet, she was able to become a successful entrepreneur after just three years. After she learned what all she could accomplish she wanted to use this knowledge for good. So, she set her life’s mission on helping others get back on their feet after suffering through the tribulations of incarceration.

Ms. Maryam Henderson-Uloho created an organization called SisterHearts. The focus of this program is not simply to help formerly incarcerated people get by, but instead to try to reverse the trauma that was inflicted on people who have been incarcerated. The first part of SisterHearts is the thrift store. This is where people who have been released have a chance to buy things that help them get back on their feet. Some formerly incarcerated people also gain job experience as well as interpersonal skills by working in the thrift store. The second part of what she calls “decarceration” is how Ms. Maryam Henderson-Uloho focuses on the trauma. She does this by building a supportive community around those that need it most. While in this community she is a motivational speaker and shares her story with others in hopes of providing a first account of how people who have been in prison can get a second chance. The whole idea of SisterHearts is to provide a safe place where people who have been incarcerated can come to learn about the healthy next steps that they can take in order to achieve the blessing of a second chance. 

For more information visit https://maryamuloho.com/


This piece was edited by Evan Price as part of Professor Kelley Crawford’s Digital Civic Engagement course at Tulane University. 


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