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Female inmates at Colorado prison get opportunity to perform in holiday play

Posted at 1:29 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 16:29:45-05

It’s that time of year where holiday plays take stage across America, and there is one performance standing out.

The all-female cast in this production of A Christmas Carol is comprised of women serving time behind bars.

“It’s a big undertaking, but I've been sort of jokingly alluding to this—that we're changing the prison system one theater show at a time,” says Dean Williams, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections.

These women have traded in their jumpsuits for costumes of characters from the classic tale, and it’s part of their rehabilitation.

"You have to provide hope and purpose again,” says Williams. “Because without that, quite frankly, people die on the vine.”

The story of Scrooge and the ghosts from Christmas past is the perfect story of redemption, one that resonates with these women who have felt discarded by society.

“It's a program that allows me to express myself,” says inmate Jamila Nelson. “As a prisoner, we don't often get the opportunity within that facility and this."

Inmate Stephanie Vasquez agrees.

"It's been so fun, so exciting, so nerve racking,” Vasquez explains. “But it's been so great."

The unique program allows the women out of prison in order to perform the holiday play.

Program director Ashley Hamilton believes it’s preparation for more than just the big night.

"Being dedicated to a long-term goal, feeling a sense of purpose and that you are being relied on by a group of people, gives you a desire to want to show up and not mess up," Hamilton says.

Between the classic tale of Tiny Tim and Scrooge, these prisoners are contributing to the society in a way they never thought possible.

"I think my job is to provide opportunities for redemption," Williams says.

Just like Scrooge, these women are looking forward to a life when they can be free of their mistakes.