Meet Susan Burton, The Founder of A New Way of Life Reentry Project

Last week we announced our year-long partnership with Los Angeles-based nonprofit, A New Way of Life Reentry Project, which works to support women rebuilding their lives after prison. This week, we wanted to take a moment to introduce their founder, Susan Burton, who is a widely recognized leader in the national criminal justice reform movement.

After returning home from her sixth term in prison, Susan Burton was exhausted by the revolving door of incarceration. A friend steered her toward a substance abuse treatment center in Santa Monica, California. It was there, in that affluent oceanside city, that Susan found the resources and help she’d never had access to while growing up in South LA. After a childhood filled with abuse, Susan’s world had finally fallen apart when her five-year-old son was run over and killed. Not knowing where to turn or how to manage her grief, Susan self-medicated and spiraled into addiction.

On October 4, 1997, when she entered treatment, Susan began the process of turning her life around. But she wasn’t content with just helping herself; she knew that there were thousands of women just like her who needed a safe, sober place to live after leaving prison. Susan saved up money from her job as a caretaker, and in 1998, she opened a three-bedroom safe home in the South LA neighborhood of Watts. She began meeting women at the Los Angeles Bus Station as they returned from prison and welcomed them into her home, urging them to stay as long as necessary to put their lives back together. This is how A New Way of Life Reentry Project was born.

Susan continues to dedicate her life to helping others break the cycle of incarceration by providing resources such as housing, case management, employment, legal services, leadership development and community organizing on behalf of, and with, people who are struggling to rebuild their lives after incarceration.

Head to our blog from last week to learn more about our year-long partnership with A New Way of Life.