Sr. Teresa “Tesa” Fitzgerald directs Hour Children, a nonprofit in Queens, New York, that serves incarcerated women and their children, building healthy, self-sufficient lives. The program is named for the hours that shape these children’s lives: the hour their mother is arrested, the hour children visit their mothers in prison, and the hour of their release.
Hour Children offers housing, education, transportation, day care, job training and employment assistance and counseling. More than 80 percent of the women helped by Hour Children have a childhood history of physical and sexual abuse; 82 percent are substance abusers. On average, their education ended after seventh-grade.
The national average recidivism rate for female offenders nationwide is approximately 30 percent. Hour Children’s recidivism has been approximately 5 percent for the past 25 years.