Red Tent Women’s Initiative has worked with women incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail since 2012. Qualified Red Tent instructors use research-based techniques to help these women implement positive coping skills to address issues such as unresolved trauma, addiction and socioeconomic disadvantage. Through our program, these women learn to build better lives for themselves and their children, avoiding a return to jail and ultimately making our communities safer.
The Red Tent program is based on four pillars of supportive treatment:
- Counselor-guided therapeutic discussion. While seated in a circle, participants share with the group their current challenges and successes.
- Connection with others. Instructors gently guide conversation to underscore emotional safety and community, creating an oasis in the otherwise isolation of the typical jail environment.
- Hands-on activity scientifically proven to resolve trauma. Instructors guide participants in sewing and handwork, encouraging them to focus on projects meaningful to themselves. Activities like these have been shown to increase calming brain chemicals such as oxytocin. The items the women create in class are put into their property for them to take home upon release.
- Mindfulness and life skills. Almost all of the women we serve have undiagnosed and often untreated trauma that led them into the downward spiral of substance abuse and incarceration. Each class includes information and mindfulness exercises (like yoga, meditation, etc.) shown to decrease the aftereffects of post traumatic stress disorder.
How the program works:
- Sentenced women incarcerated in the Pinellas County Jail, with at least eight weeks left on their sentence, are eligible to enroll in the Red Tent program.
- The program allows for a total of 15 participants and consistently has a long waiting list. The Red Tent program is currently the best-attended program for women at the jail.
- Women voluntarily enroll in the program. Participants may receive programming again after waiting list has been completed.
The Red Tent Women’s Initiative is a unique, comprehensive program providing hope, strength and support to Pinellas County’s incarcerated women. Our program lifts up these women by showing them their intrinsic value and by providing a safe, caring sanctuary while implementing techniques to deal with unresolved trauma.
The Red Tent program in the jail has proven so effective that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has supported its continuation since 2012. The jail considers it one of their best programs in effecting positive change in the lives of these women.