A Tulsa Salon is giving women who just got out of prison a second chance.
The R.I.S.E Program helps women at Mabel Bassett become licensed cosmetologists so they can get a job right away. But the program is teaching the women more than just how to give a nice haircut.
"When I was accepted into this program, it was like it just gave me a hope you know," said Jamie Bertsch.
Jamie was recently released from Mabel Bassett Correctional Center and has been working at Great Clips for two months now. While she was in prison, she was accepted into the R.I.S.E Program and was able to get her cosmetology license and had a job lined up before she was even released.
“Most people wouldn’t do that just coming out of beauty school, and straight out of prison and they took a chance by just giving me this opportunity,” said Jamie.
The R.I.S.E Program teaches women the basics of cutting hair, painting nails, and more but in order to get into the program you must accept your past.
"It’s just a joy to see them be transformed right before my eyes," said R.I.S.E Founder Christie Luther.
Luther says she felt like she needed to give back to these women because she knows what it’s like to be there. She spent four years in prison and says she met a lot of women who wanted something more for their lives.
"When I got out I began pursuing DOC and the cosmetology board to establish this program,” said Luther. “It is absolutely what God called me to do with my life, it’s what I was born for."
So far, 21 women have received their cosmetology licenses through the program and three of the women who have been released already have jobs thanks to partnerships with salons like Great Clips.
“When I go in and I tell the ladies we already have jobs for you guys, I can’t explain the looks on their faces. its hope is what it is,” said Luther.
“They’ve accepted their past, they’ve made mistakes and they want to do better and who wouldn’t want a chance to do better than what they’ve done,” said H&G Salons President Daniel Walker.
Walker has vowed to hire any of the women who have graduated from the program because he believes it's important to give women like Jamie a second chance.
“We’re giving them a chance to not have to worry about money, not have to worry about paying the bills,” said Walker. “They can just really focus on their transition.”
Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate for women than any other state in the country, but one of the biggest challenges for these women, when they get out, is finding a job.
“I don’t even know if I would have a job if it hadn’t been for this program and great clips," said Bertsch.
“We are just real people trying to help people,” said Walker. “We are changing people’s lives one haircut at a time.”
Luther says they are looking to expand their program to Eddie Warrior Prison in Taft. The program also assists with housing, clothing, life skills, recovery support and mentoring for the women. They believe it’s important to help bridge the gap from the prison gate back into the community.
“We all have made mistakes and these ladies have worked really hard to redeem themselves and they have a lot to bring back to society,” said Luther.
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