North Carolina Department of Correction news release
Prison Girl Scout Troop Helps Inmate Mothers and Their Daughters

SEPTEMBER 12, 1997

Rocky Mount -- Caramel Delights and Shortbreads are Girl Scout Troop 1019's best selling cookies. The troop of Fountain Correctional Center for Women inmates and their daughters expect to sell more than 2,000 boxes this year.
Prison social worker and inmates display Girl Scout cookies.
"Most of the cookies are sold to inmates," said Sherrie Williams, prison social worker. "And thatís amazing when you realize that most of the people here make 40 cents a day. For them a box of cookies is more than a weekís pay."

But Williams says that reflects how supportive inmates and staff at the prison have been when it comes to the new scouting program. The cost of the program is absorbed through such fundraising activities. Families of the girls must make travel arrangements to get them to the meetings held in the offices of the prison social workers.

Each scout meeting is structured so that the inmates and daughters have some private time, then the group works on the weekly scouting program and enjoys a meal together.

"It keeps us in communication," said Etheleen Williams who sees her 10-year-old daughter regularly now thanks to Girl Scout meetings. "My daughter loves coming to the meetings."

The Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program was developed in the early 1990s by the National Institute of Justice. Fountain prison managers have established the first scouting program in North Carolinaís prison system. The program was established to reduce the suffering of young girls whose mothers are imprisoned and to teach the girls important lessons about life.

"Scouting teaches strong values," Sherrie Williams said. "The Girl Scout law teaches girls to respect authority, to be honest and fair and to help where needed."

The Scout troop just received its flag, half blue and half white bearing the Girl Scout emblem and their troop number, 1019. The women have also designed their own logo for t-shirts they sell. The logo has two doves flying from a barred window. For the scout mothers itís a powerful symbol.

"Iíve tried to teach them not to end up like me," said Etheleen Williams. "Itís what weíre all about."