MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – How do you show people, who have never personally experienced it, what life after incarceration is like? West Virginia University might have an idea.

The Second Chances Breakfast and Simulation event hosted at the WVU Media Innovation Center gathered employers and community leaders and organizers to show them what life after incarceration is like for women.

Each was assigned a persona and tasks they had to complete and were given four rounds that were eight minutes long, respectively, spaced out with moments of reflections.

The tasks they had to accomplish included getting a government-issued I.D., finding a job, healthcare and taking out loans. These services were provided by different vendors who could accept or refuse to provide services based on whether the person had the right tickets.

A look into the simulation

“I think the goal really is to help people better under the issues that formerly incarcerated women face as well as any employers who are here even for them to just take another look at hiring formerly incarcerated women, just formerly incarcerated people in general,” WVU senior Dalton Benedict said.

Benedict is part of a senior year capstone, Women Beyond Bars project, that organized the event. He works as the account manager for the semester-long project that culminated with the simulation.

The class Dalton said was looking for ways to teach people about issues that formerly incarcerated women deal with and had heard about the simulation from the US Department of Justice. They took a look into it he said, thought it’d be a good fit, and then they invited members of community organizations, people involved in the legal field, as well as employers to be involved in the event and learn about the issue.

The spring semester of 2020, for now, will be the last semester for the Women Beyond Bars project because it is funded through a two-year grant. The project has been a collaboration between WVU and the University of Oklahoma Benedict said.

“I’m really happy about the turnout we have here,” Benedict said. “I think everyone has been really enjoying the event while learning a lot about the issue.”