Born to a heroin-addicted mother in an Appalachian prison, Deborah Jiang-Stein spent the first year of her life in incarceration, then bounced between foster families until she was adopted. After overcoming the harsh realities of her past – including an addiction of her own – Deborah set out to empower and inspire incarcerated women with the hope and tools they would need to succeed in life after prison. Now clean and sober for more than 20 years, Deborah leads the unPrison Project, providing incarcerated women with education, literacy, recovery and mentoring programs to prepare for a successful life after their release.
The unPrison Project works to build literacy, mentoring and life skills capacity for women and girls in prisons, and for their children, to help cultivate critical thinking as tools to plan, set goals and prepare for a successful life after prison. At the same time, the organization works to increase public awareness on mass incarceration. For more than ten years, the unPrison Project has worked to encourage education and capacity building for the over 200,000 women in U.S. prisons.
Being a Women of Worth is an opportunity to build a platform of hope for the three million mothers and children impacted by incarceration to show them how to keep moving forward in life, without letting their past define them.