Ashley strolls in her new neighborhood with her youngest son Elijah in Bellow Falls, Vermont. She stays within a two block radius of her new home, avoiding areas of town in which drug use is rampant and where she could run into old acquaintances still using drugs and committing crimes.

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Life After Incarceration

Rebecca Fudala | United States

For women convicts, life after incarceration is filled with challenges: parole, finding housing, securing an income, and, for some, substance abuse recovery. Released into a world that has moved forward without them, they now must try to reconnect. Worse yet, society has labeled them as unfit, and they must move mountains to prove otherwise.

Ashley Heir is a young mother of three boys. She has been incarcerated three times and is in substance abuse recovery. Recalling her past heroin addiction, she told me that the only reason she is alive today is because of her kids.

Cyndi LaPlante is the sole caregiver of her elderly father with dementia. Incarcerated countless times, the last time she was released she had to walk over a bridge to see her parole office. Cyndi told me she thought of jumping off that bridge. What stopped her was the fear that no one would be there to take care of her father.

Ashley and Cyndi are just two of thousands of women in reentry programs throughout the country taking courageous steps in hopes to build a new foundation and a new life for their families.

Rebecca Fudala is a photographer and photo editor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has a bachelor's degree in International Studies from American University’s School of International Service and a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. 

From 2007 to 2011, Rebecca lived abroad teaching English as a Second Language. She worked in the Czech Republic, South Korea, Palestine, and Costa Rica. In 2009, she began volunteering for Amnesty International and discovered her passion for human rights and social justice. Since then, she has worked for Project Hope, the United Nations, Oxfam International and the Arms Trade Treaty Network, and Oxfam America. 

In 2020, Rebecca graduated from the Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism certificate program at the International Center of Photography. Shortly after graduating, Rebecca temporarily moved back to Minnesota to help her family care for her mother who was ill. While in Minnesota, she worked as a photographer and journalist for the local paper, the Aitkin Independent Age.

Rebecca’s academic and professional experience influence her documentary practices. Past projects have focused on Palestinian women entrepreneurs, women and post-conflict development in Colombia, and toxic environments in New York City.

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