Women Inmates and Rescued Horses Heal Together for a Second Chance

By Gaia De Simoni

WINDHAM, Maine – The sun is barely rising and the officers of the Southern Maine Women Reentry Center (SMWRC) have just finished their first roll call of the day.

Claire Marie Valenoti looks outside the only window of her tiny room. On the right, a cork board covered with photos of her two kids and other family members hangs above her neatly laid twin bed.

No bars limit her view of the green hills surrounding the prison, but she is unable to open the window and feel the cold air on her face.

She has been here since December 2018 for aggravated trafficking of scheduled B drugs and possession of crack cocaine, serving four years in prison and three years of probation.

“At least it’s not sad,” Valenoti says, looking outside, her long blond hair gathered in a bun.

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