On Friday, December 6, three weeks after her release, Marsha waits for her sons to come for a visit. She sits in her new apartment in a residential part of Raleigh. It's part of Harriet's House, a transitional program for women leaving prison. The arrangement gives Marsha cheap rent and access to counseling.
"Some people getting out of prison they say they'd rather go on their own," Marsha says. "They don't want to go into a transitional house because of all the rules and this and that, but I feel like I do need that. You know, I haven't lived on my own in seven years."
But the halfway house requires ex-prisoners to get settled for six months before taking on the full-time care of their children. So Marsha's kids, Michael and Khire, still live with Marsha's mother in a small town on the North Carolina coast. Every other weekend a Harriet's House staffer drives out and picks up the boys and brings them for an overnight stay with their mother.
When they walk into the apartment, Marsha greets them with kisses. Michael is eleven; Khire's nine. They wear baggy jeans and jackets. They have round faces like their mother's. The three talk about what's new in school, weekend plans. Marsha breaks out the toothbrushes she bought for her sons to use at her place. They all seem at ease with one another.
"I thought that they would kind of be a little uncomfortable with me, that it would take some getting used to. But no, they were just theirself," Marsha says with a smile.
Next: Michael's Troubles