PEOPLE Exclusive: Mom Raises Her 2-Year-Old Daughter in Prison Nursery: 'This Is My Second Chance'

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

For a brief moment on a rainy weekday morning in Gig Harbor, Washington, Karen Garcia looks like any other mom getting her 2-year-old daughter ready for the day ahead. But Garcia's life with her daughter, Aryanna, is far from typical.

She gets her dressed, helps her brush her teeth and puts her into her stroller as they make their way to daycare.

"For a moment everything seems normal," Garcia tells PEOPLE. "And then I'm reminded where I am because there are barbed-wire fences everywhere."

Since November 2015, the 40-year-old mom has been an inmate at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. When she arrived, after being found guilty of selling methamphetamine and a fireman and sentenced to 60 months in prison, Garcia was seven months pregnant.


Double Homicide Suspect Caught on Camera; Manhunt Widens

Washington is one of only 11 states in the country that offers a prison nursery to inmates with young children. Under the Residential Parenting Program (RPP), which was founded in 1999, women in the minimum-security facility with sentences up to 30 months can apply to keep their children with them until they're released.

But Garcia would end up being the exception to the rule because of her long sentence.

"The only thing I could do was fight for my daughter," says Garcia, who gave birth on Feb. 2, 2016. "I could fight to get into the program. I just wasn't going to take no for an answer."

Although she had a five-year sentence, 20 months would be waived for good behavior, making her 10 months over the 30-month requirement.

She wrote to prison officials pleading her case and when she found out she'd been accepted, she says, it was "a feeling I'll never forget. . . . My mornings are better here than they would be if I was home. My daughter doesn't see any of the things that I've seen before I got here. She gets to wake up to a mother who loves her unconditionally. This is my second—and only—chance."

Since Aryanna was born, Garcia's life couldn't look more different than the one she lived before, which was filled with drugs, alcohol and repeated bad decisions.

Already a mother to a son who she had when she was 18-years-old, Garcia says she's now determined to be the parent she failed to be to him and also wants to continue to repair their relationship when she's released.

"I didn't want to abandon my daughter like I did my son so many years ago," she says. "This program has strengthened me and has given me the ability of get clean and sober."


People Exclusive: Father of Teen Missing Since 2009 Whom FBI Has Declared Was Held Captive and Murdered: 'I'm Begging Anyone To Help Us Bring Her Home'

Through the Residential Parenting Program, she's received drug treatment and therapy and has learned how to do everything from prepare healthy meals and change diapers to bath-time safety.

It's also helped her find the motivation to join the prison's Trades Related Apprenticeship Coaching program, where she has been learning carpentry skills and hopes to secure a well-paid job with labor-union benefits pending her release on Feb. 23, 2019—just one day before her 41st birthday.

When Garcia leaves, she can't wait to focus on the "small things," like watching Aryanna chew gum for the first time and reuniting with her husband, Jason Garcia, who hasn't yet met Aryanna, but is the person she calls "daddy."

"I've opened my eyes and changed my life around. I'm not a bad person, but I made bad choices," Garcia says. "Your past doesn't have to define you, and it doesn't define your future."

Content courtesy of People. To read complete story: http://people.com/human-interest/karen-garcia-raises-daughter-prison-program/

 

Haute Tease

  • Critical New Discovery During Wisconsin Recount: Cellular Connectivity of Tabulators Leaves Door Open to Hacking

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A huge security hole in our US elections, which allows alteration of vote totals by outsider or insider entities, was discovered during the Wisconsin recount, according to electronic security investigators from RecountNow.org.

     
  • AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi ANNOUNCES DATES AND CALL FOR ENTRIES

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES, CA– AFI FEST 2013 presented by Audi officially announced its dates and call for entries today. The American Film Institute's annual celebration of artistic excellence brings the audience and the entertainment community together to explore the year in global cinema through the new works of film masters, moving image icons and breakthrough talents, and is the only film festival of its stature that is free to the public.

     
  • Christie’s Auction Sells Picasso for Record $179Million; Giacometti Sets Sculpture Record

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Christie's Auction House, in an invitation only evening sale, aided by private buyers worldwide, attained dizzying results achieving a record breaking 705 million dollars against the 35 pieces of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art available in the Looking Forward to the Past lot.

     
  • Celebrity Interview & Review: G-Force,From Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Animation At Its Finest

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    “G-Force”, a soon-to-be released 3-D animated spy thriller, from Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films was recently previewed for the World Media at AMC Empire Theaters in New York City.

     
  • Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser, Resigns (Letter Included); Exposing Trump’s Missteps and Misplaced Loyalties

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The resignation of Michael Flynn, the newly appointed National Security Adviser, in reality, is probably the only move recommended by the Trump Administration that reminds the world that even in Trumpland some old school rules still apply.

     
  • Breaking: Judge Orders All Cash Bonds on New Mexico Child Killers

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    In the first court appearance since their arrest on the murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens, a New Mexico Judge has ordered bond set on all three at 1M all cash for Michelle Marten, Fabian Gonzales and Jessica Kelly.

     
  • HL Las Vegas: Urban Turban Hires Chef Tarun Kapoor and Debuts New Menu

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Urban Turban has announced international-award winning Master Chef Tarun Kapoor, an award winning ingredient, as new executive chef at the dine-in restaurant on East Paradise and Urban Turban EXPRESS at The LINQ.