Bonds Beyond Bars: VOA Texas Mothers & Infants Nurturing Together Program

Step into a unique program helping incarcerated expectant moms in Texas. They join at seven months pregnant, learn about childbirth and parenting, and bond with their babies for three months. Then, they plan for their child’s care with trusted guardians before returning to jail. Explore their inspiring stories of love and resilience.

Angelina Rivera

Why are you incarcerated?

Originally, I was incarcerated for conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine. As of right now, my probation has been revoked, and I am serving a sentence of ten months.

How did you learn about the VOA Texas MINT program?

 When I knew I was being violated, I googled programs that allowed you to keep your baby while in BOP [Bureau of Prisons]. VOA Texas was one of them.

Tell us about your pregnancy and/or baby?

 My pregnancy was easy until now; I’m at the end. I am currently 37 weeks. I am having a boy, and am naming him Drequan A. Alexander, Jr.

How many other children do you have?

 I have three other children, Nydalena, 16; Rueben, 14; and Francisco, 8; who are my everything.

What are you learning in the MINT program?

 I am currently learning a bunch of stuff. Most of all, parenting skills, healthy communication skills, self-love, safety skills, how to keep your baby safe while in a crib, how to manage finances and how to deal with past trauma.

After the program will you be released?

 I will be going home in June which is before my time is up in the MINT. Drequan will be one month old.

How has the MINT program changed your life?

For starters, the MINT Program Coordinator, Charlotte Smith, is very supportive, positive, and helpful. She really pushes me and the other girls to be the best version of ourselves. I’ve never had anyone in my life to believe I can be the best version of myself. So, I truly feel like I was sent to this program for a reason. When I originally did my time, I never took time to reflect on myself, my children, or my future. I truly believe I came to prison this time to reflect on my life and show me the importance of being there for my children, that is the most important thing in the world. I am thankful for the opportunity and thank you for allowing me to tell my story.

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