Incarceration | St. Louis Public Radio

Incarceration

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

After nearly eight years, members of the Women Initiate Legal Lifelines to Other Women — or the WILLOW Project — have made a significant gain in the case of a woman convicted of helping in the 1994 murder of two elderly women in Missouri and Iowa.

The Missouri Parole Board granted Angel Stewart parole this month after spending 25 years behind bars. She’s still serving a life sentence in Iowa without the possibility of parole, although she and those helping her maintain she was not a part of the women’s murders.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s incarceration rate for women is among the highest in the country. 

The majority of these women have children, yet little research has examined the effects of incarceration on mothers specifically.

Stephanie Regagnon, far right, poses for a photo in 2014 with some of the Ava's Grace scholarship recipients.
Stephanie Regagnon

When Stephanie Regagnon of Kirkwood was in her 20s, a jury found her mother guilty of a federal crime and sent her to prison for four years. The family maintains that she is innocent.

The first time Regagnon visited her mom, she noticed small children stocking up on vending-machine snacks for their parents to enjoy when they came out to see them.

“It seemed like they were trying so hard to create a nice environment,” Regagnon said. “It was pretty soul crushing.”

Regagnon imagined the children waiting to see their parents would likely have a hard time getting to college. In 2010, she started a scholarship fund called Ava’s Grace to help young people whose fate brushed so closely against her own.

Stacie Lents, Rachel Tibbetts and Christopher Limber talk about artistic approaches to rehabilitation for incarcerated women.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

A creative collaboration between a nationally known playwright and a group of women incarcerated in Vandalia, Missouri, is bringing new voices and stories to St. Louis theater-goers with the production “Run-On Sentence.”

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the initiative, which is a partnership between Prison Performing Arts and the award-winning SATE Ensemble.

The effort aims to move and entertain audiences and extend public awareness, particularly about the effects of incarceration and innovative, artistic approaches to rehabilitation.