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First Mural Unveiled as part of the New Barnstable Women’s Treatment Program

This is the first mural as part of the new program, “Metamorphosis: Inmate Success Powered by Art."

The Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office unveiled the first mural ever created at the correctional facility. Designed and painted as a collaboration between the incarcerated women and the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, it is part of a larger program to treat women.

Launched in March of 2024, the Women’s Therapeutic Treatment Program or WTTP is a rolling 90-day multifaceted approach set in one of the female housing units. Each day begins with a morning meeting and every day involves meetings, classes and groups. These include parenting classes, case management, 12- step meetings, yoga, creative writing, memoir writing, harm reduction, substance recovery groups, and spiritual groups.

The mural features trees, roots, water, waves and butterflies.

“We have some programs like this for men already, but women face particularly challenging odds,” said Sheriff Donna D. Buckley. “For one, they are usually mothers. Out of 33 women in a recent count, they had 49 children. Maintaining or regaining custody of their children is the core motivation of their recovery. Women suffer tremendous guilt and shame related to their addictions, especially regarding how those behaviors may have harmed their children. Therefore, the WTTP specializes in helping them overcome shame, re-establish relationships, and build self-esteem.”

The project “Metamorphosis: Inmate Success Powered by Art,” began with two artists and a therapist from the Cultural Center asking 23 women (every female in the facility at that time) to draw on paper with their eyes closed. Since then, some of the women who were transferred from Essex County in May have also joined the program.

The message: "This is not forever," acts as a reminder for the females currently incarcerated.

As one of the women said, they have learned to embrace chaos. Out of the creative process, they were able to come up with symbolism — trees, roots, water, waves and butterflies — that unified them as a group. Their goal was to produce a message of beauty and hope for those who will come after them. But the purpose of the project is about the process as much as the finished product.

“They really did pour themselves out onto the canvas,” said Molly Demeulenaere, Executive Director of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. “They’ve shared very personal stories here, and ultimately, they are leaving a message behind.”

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