Rowena Gore-Simmons runs a non-profit which helps formerly incarcerated women find housing and adjust to life outside the prison system.
But in 2001, Rowena was just getting out of prison herself. She was a recovering drug addict and had served time for theft.
Her daughter, Kenya, was 4 years old when Rowena was incarcerated, and wanted to ask her mom about her time in prison.
Click here for the transcript.
Rowena Gore-Simmons (RGS): I was being shackled, hands and feet. I was disappointed in myself and I was scared for you guys.
What was the hardest part about me being gone?
RGS: What did you tell people where I was at?
KG: I didn't tell them nothing, but people kept saying, Where's your mother?
RGS: Did that make you feel like an outsider?
What did you think about while you were there?
RGS: Well, it made me really think about life and I asked myself, Who are you and who do you want to be? I wanted to be a better mother and learn more about being a mom. I wanted to hold you. I wanted to count your fingers, I wanted to brush your hair. I wanted to be with you.
KG: What's the best part being out of prison?
RGS: Oh my god (laughs.) That I have my family. This is what I'm living for--to be able to be a family.
KG: Are you different?
RGS: Oh god… You know I sometimes look back at the past and I say to myself, Who was that person? And I thank you for being patient with me and I thank you for still loving me. And for giving me the opportunity to be your mother.
What do you hope for the future?
KG: That we never get split apart again. And we stay together forever.
RGS: You're so special to me. And I will always be by your side.
KG: I love you.
RGS: I love you too.