At a forum ACJP//De-Bug held at the end of last year, as Santa Clara County imagined the best ways to build a realignment strategy that reduces recidivism, Steeda McGruder gave her testimony as an offering of hope to a crowd of community members, elected officials and public safety officials. She shared a vision of peer mentorship built from ideas she developed while she was incarcerated. She called her dream “Sisters That Been There.” She made her dream real, and now Sisters That Been There has become a unique blueprint of redemption, re-invention and tangible impact. Check out the Mercury News profile of her success story!
Ex-convict with ‘street cred’ leads unique San Jose support group for repeat offenders
By Tracey Kaplan
For a Santa Clara County contract employee, Steeda McGruder doesn’t exactly have a pristine résumé:
Occupation: Drug dealer/user, thief
Work history: In and out of custody for past 17 years
Attitude during last jail stint: Angry, suicidal, high-risk (allowed out of maximum-security cell only every 48 hours to shower)
So why has the probation department eagerly put her on its payroll at $400 a week?
Because officials believe her criminal record, powerful rap and magnetic personality make McGruder the ideal person to run a support group for recently released repeat female offenders called “Sisters That Been There.” Continue reading