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Furloughed inmates now have House

Furloughed inmates now have House
Furloughed inmates now have House
Mary Decker, left, and Rita LaDuke sit on one of four beds at the Butterfly Transformation House near Elizabeth. The house is for women who are furloughed from the Harrison County Jail. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor (click for larger version)

Women coming out of jail in Harrison County didn’t have many options of where they would go, but that changed last week with the opening of the Butterfly Transformation House near Elizabeth.
Mary Decker, who serves on the house’s board of directors, said the house is currently set up for four women, ranging in age from 18 and older, but could accommodate up to eight.
The first woman arrived last Monday. The day before, during an open house, the woman’s mother delivered a bag of personal items. She shed a few tears when she saw the finished home, which has a living room, kitchen/dining room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a sunroom.
The Butterfly Transformation House gives women a chance to get back into society, said Decker, who, with husband, Gary, has worked 24 years in jail ministry.
Numerous volunteers, many from Grace Tabernacle Church near Laconia, helped prepare the house for the residents. Butterfly decorations can be found throughout the two-story structure.
Rita LaDuke, who lives next door to the house, will serve as house mother.
The house belonged to Garland Abbott, who is giving the Butterfly board a six-month trial.
Decker said the board reviewed 13 applicants before deciding on the first residents.
Those chosen to stay there will receive instruction in several different classes, such as finances, job skills and parenting, Decker said, and will be taken to job interviews. They also will help with cooking and chores and must sign an agreement, submit to random drug tests and follow the house rules, which includes a curfew. Demerits will be given for breaking some rules, while there’s a zero-tolerance for others. And smoking will not be allowed.
Decker said they could lose privileges, such as visitation, for breaking certain rules. In worst-case scenarios, they could be sent back to jail.
Three female inmates, with supervision, painted the bedrooms at the house.
The Deckers are used to opening their home to strangers, first as foster parents then as the adoptive parents of four boys.
‘We just want to see people make it,’ Decker said.
The woman whose daughter moved in last week was pleased her daughter was getting another chance. The daughter, who will be 20 in December, has been an addict since she was 15, her mother said.
And while she’s been in jail with 30 other women, the mother said she noticed a change in her daughter since she learned she’d be furloughed to the Butterfly Transformation House.
Much of the furniture in the house was donated by the Sherrard family. Teresa Sherrard said her late mother-in-law would be pleased how her belongings were being used. Tommy Dennison donated the cabinets and the labor to install them, Decker said.
‘There’s been so many people help,’ Decker said.
The Butterfly Transformation House group will be at Celebrate Laconia on Saturday with a booth to help raise funds for their efforts.
Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye, who planted the seed for the idea of the house with the Deckers, attended the open house.
‘I think it’s outstanding,’ he said. ‘There’s no place for the women who are getting out of jail … other than (often) back in an abusive relationship.’
Besides the sheriff, the group has received support from Sheila Temple and the probation department, and Capt. Amanda Stone, who serves as jail commander.
Adult volunteers are needed to serve as mentors.
‘These girls, if we show them respect, they’ll give us respect,’ Decker said. ‘We want to give them a chance. We believe the girls can come out and be something beautiful.’
Other board members besides Decker, LaDuke and Sherrard are Debbie Zupaince, Bonnie Carter and the Rev. Greg Carter.
For more information about the facility or to make a donation of any kind, call 737-2834.