Vanessa: Formerly Incarcerated and Now She’s Supporting Other Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Their Children

Vanessa Garrett, Reentry and Reunification Program Manager of Motherhood Beyond Bars

This week’s episode of the 1 Girl Revolution Podcast features Vanessa Garrett, Reentry and Reunification Program Manager of Motherhood Beyond Bars. You recently heard about Motherhood Beyond Bars from the Executive Director of MBB, Amy Ard (Episode 126 of the 1 Girl Revolution Podcast), but Vanessa brings another perspective as a formerly incarcerated woman on the importance of their work and the experiences of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. 

Vanessa brings experience, passion, and a deep understanding of the needs of mothers and children impacted by the criminal legal system to her role at Motherhood Beyond Bars. For the past nine years, Vanessa has worked with justice-impacted mothers and used her experience to help women navigate the myriad obstacles they face coming out of incarceration. She is a paralegal with concentrations in criminal law, business law, and family law. Vanessa is fluent in Spanish and American Sign Language and is a Certified Natural Grower. She enjoys spending her free time in the garden and enjoying homegrown fruits and vegetables.

Vanessa was incarcerated for 8 years and two days. She was incarcerated right before her daughter turned 1 year old and right before her son turned 10 — and got out just in time to see her son graduate high school. Now Vanessa is using her own personal experience to help other women through Motherhood Beyond Bars. 

Motherhood Beyond Bars provides support for infants born to incarcerated women and works to reunify families. The work that Motherhood Beyond Bars is doing is so unique and critical in the world today. Women are the fastest growing population within jail and prison, and many of those women show up to prison pregnant. What happens to those women when it’s time to give birth? What kind of care and support do they have — or not have? What happens to the babies when the mom has to go back to jail or prison? There are so many questions that I had and I was blown away by everything that Amy shared about her own life story and her experiences as a doula and stories from this life-changing organization, Motherhood Beyond Bars. 

Pregnancy and birth should be a time of transformation, not trauma – and every woman should have access to quality care and compassionate childbirth support. Every child born to an incarcerated woman deserves love and support from a community of care. And women moving beyond incarceration should be prepared to parent with confidence. Motherhood Beyond Bars serves so many of the needs of these women and their children… and their work just continues to grow and evolve. 

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Vanessa’s powerful life story; 
  • Her experience in incarceration and what incarcerated mothers face ;
  • The story of how she got out and got connected with Motherhood Beyond Bars;
  • About her work with Motherhood Beyond Bars and how her own life and experiences have helped her in her work with Motherhoodbeyondbars; 
  • And so much more.


The 1 Girl Revolution Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, YouTube, iHeartRadio, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. 

1 Girl Revolution is a social platform and podcast that highlights the stories of everyday women who are changing the world through their lives.

For more information on Motherhood Beyond Bars, please visit their website

And you can find more information about Motherhood Beyond Bars’ book “To the Earth and Back” here. Follow MBB to follow when the book is released and to be able to purchase it. And we will be sure to promote it when it’s out too, so if you’re following 1 Girl Revolution – you’ll be in the loop!

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