Connecting Communities: Introducing Prison Visit Sessions at LCIW

After hosting group prison visit sessions at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center for over a year, Parole Project and the Frederick Douglass Project for Justice marked a new chapter by introducing the program at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women. The partnership aims to bring hope and connection between incarcerated women and members of our communities.

“Expanding our prison visitation model to include the Louisiana Correctional Institute (LCIW) for Women and Elayn Hunt is a significant stride” said Dr. Marc Howard, founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Project. “We recognize that women are so often overlooked … it’s crucial to the mission of the Frederick Douglass Project that we take care to highlight their experiences.”

Facilitating the LCIW program is Parole Project Reentry Manager Christi Cheramie, a former client turned advocate, whose own journey of redemption fuels her dedication to empower others. Along with Community Engagement Manager Matthew Pineda, she has led prison visit sessions to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center since 2022. 

Christi’s connection to LCIW runs deep. With 25 years spent behind those very walls, she intimately understands the struggles and challenges faced by the women incarcerated here. Christi was granted parole in 2019, but she always emphasizes that she did not leave the women of LCIW – she simply departed from them temporarily. She returns to the place where she literally grew up with a mission: to offer hope and guidance to those still walking the path toward redemption.

Through guided tours and intimate gatherings, the Fredrick Douglass Project visits at LCIW offer moments of profound connection and understanding. As incarcerated women and free individuals come together in a shared circle, barriers dissolve and hearts open. In the quiet sanctuary of the prison chapel, stories are shared and dreams are nurtured.

“It’s not about where we’ve been. It’s about where we’re going,” Christi said, her voice filled with conviction. “Each visit is a step toward healing and renewal – for all of us.”

For the outside participants who attend, these sessions offer more than just observation. As preconceived notions give way to empathy, bonds form that bridge the gap between worlds.

“We may come from different backgrounds, but we’re all human,” one participant reflected, their eyes shining with newfound understanding. “Having people choose to come here, meet us, and hear our stories keeps hope alive.”

As the sessions draw to a close, the impact of the encounters linger, both within the prison walls and beyond. For the women of LCIW, the visits represent a lifeline—a reminder that their past mistakes do not define them and that the potential for growth and transformation lies within. For community members who participate, these encounters serve as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of empathy.

“Through these visits, we’re not just breaking down barriers, we’re building bridges,” Christi said. “And together, we’re forging a path toward redemption and renewal – for ourselves, for the women of LCIW, and for all who dare to believe in the power of second chances.”

Parole Project and the Frederick Douglass Project host prison visit sessions at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana and Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in Baker, Louisiana monthly. Unless otherwise indicated, sessions at Elayn Hunt are held on the second Friday of each month and sessions at LCIW are held on the fourth Friday of each month.

If you’d like to participate in an upcoming prison visit session, please complete this form.

Contact Matthew Pineda for more information.

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