The women in the pink shirts were inmates, some serving time for murder. The girls in the street clothes were middle school students, on track to join the women wearing pink, says Baltimore Sun crime columnist Peter Hermann. They gathered yesterday in a gym at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women to make sure that doesn’t happen. Cops haven’t yet slapped handcuffs on the 32 young teens in mentoring programs sponsored by the Baltimore mayor’s office and identified because of their falling grades, poor attention and bad attitudes. But they’re close.
In small groups, the inmates talked to the kids, trying to get them to tell their stories. What do they like about themselves? What makes them angry? What makes them lash out? They also told their own sad and tortuous histories, about the crimes that put them in prison and the children waiting for them on the outside. The program is in its second year and is the first in the state targeting young girls. Tomorrow, the inmates will meet a more hardened set – young female offenders already locked up. Warden Brenda Shell-Eleazer expects at least one or two of the students who go through the program will someday end up in her prison as inmates. What is most shocking are the troubles these kids live through and often try to hide.