According to recent statistics, the U.S. has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. It has an estimated inmate population of more than 2 million people, which means that many children are separated from one or both parents who are serving time behind bars, or are serving time themselves.
Now the Girl Scouts, a 100-year-old youth organization usually associated with outdoor and service activities, is reaching out to the incarcerated and their families to offer guidance and support.
Lesley Rich, social justice coordinator for the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, works with girls behind bars to help build their hope, life skills, and confidence so they are better able to cope with traumatic personal and family circumstances.
"When the girls go into the prison, they see what it's all about and that can really help reduce the recidivism rates in the families as well," Rich says.
But Arizona isn't alone in providing such services. Troop 1500 is a documentary about a similar program in Texas that works with girls whose mothers are in prison.
The documentary will be shown several times in Tucson during the month of December as part of a cooperative effort between Arizona Public Media, the Pima County Public Library and Community Cinema. The showings are free and open to the public.