After reading Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, Barbara Rhode learned that villages historically erected tents for women to retreat into during life challenges and traumas. In response to the dramatic increase in incarcerated women in her community, Barbara founded her own red tent – a platform dedicated to creating safe spaces for female inmates, “The Red Tent Women’s Initiative, Inc.”. This trauma-informed program is rooted in science to provide life skills and resolve past emotional, physical and mental damage. It helps incarcerated women engage through arts and crafts, mentorship and coaching opportunities, with the overarching goal of ensuring each woman leaves jail ready to begin a different life for herself. National data from the 2018 U.S. Justice Department shows that 44% of released prisoners were re-incarcerated within the following year, but for the 100 women who take the Red Tent class annually, this number is less than 25%. Through Red Tent programming, the women under Barbara’s care are learning to build better lives for themselves and their children, saving taxpayers significant dollars, avoiding a return to jail and ultimately making our communities safer.
Being a L’Oréal Woman of Worth empowers me to open people's minds concerning the destructive issue of mass incarceration and shine a much-needed light on the difference trauma informed programs like Red Tent can make in an inmate's life and future.