A New Way of Life’s Founder and Director Susan Burton is herself a formerly incarcerated woman who understands the challenges people face leaving prison.
A New Way of Life’s Founder and Director Susan Burton is herself a formerly incarcerated woman who understands the challenges people face leaving prison. After more than 20 years cycling in and out of the criminal justice system, unable to find work, housing or addiction-recovery treatment, Susan mercifully gained freedom and sobriety in 1997 and made it her life’s work to help other women walking in her shoes. She began by meeting women released from prison as they stepped off the prison bus, welcoming them into her home, and urging them to stay as long as necessary to put their lives back together. Susan quickly recognized that her individual efforts were not enough. She saw that women coming home from prison faced tremendous institutional barriers: rules, laws, policies, and attitudes that operated to deny them access to employment, student loans, permanent housing, public assistance, and many other services. Challenging such obstacles in isolation would be a futile exercise. Susan came to understand that real change could only happen through a powerful, grassroots community organizing effort, one that could amass enough political power to bring an end to discriminatory practices, and shift public attitudes in a way that would break the cycle of mass incarceration… and A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project was born.