New Orleans – When Bree Anderson was three years old, her father was wrongfully convicted of robbery, kidnapping, rape and murder.
Sent to Angola, he remained locked up for 24 years until Innocence Project New Orleans helped him overturn his conviction and win his release in 2017. When he got out, his baby daughter had become a determined, 27 year-old woman.
“It’s about changing the narrative,” says Anderson, because if she had listened to the statistics, she might have dropped out of school, become a pregnant teenager, or be incarcerated herself as an adult.
“I didn’t do any of those things,” she says, “because I wanted to break the cycle.”
Anderson is a co-founder, with Dominique Jones, of a non-profit group called “Daughters Beyond Incarceration,” or “DBI.”
Anderson and Jones know how hard it is for dads and daughters to bond when the father is in prison. They know how embarrassing it is to be alone on “Daddy and Daughter Day” in school. They know how frightening it is to think that an incarcerated father might die behind bars.
DBI helps girls ages 4 to 18 get through that kind of emotional trauma. It’s a mentoring program that offers counseling for the girls, while advocating through the legal system for prison reform.
The program started with just two “mentees” less than two years ago and now there are 75.
Anderson says the girls would like to one day have a house where they can get together, instead of an office. A “safe house” for sharing their struggles.
You can get more information about the program, and how to donate, at dbinola.org.
More remarkable facts about Bree Anderson:
Education: Business Administration, LSU
Person who inspired you: My mother
What you wanted to be when you grew up: A pharmacist, because I always wanted to help people
Hobbies: Writing poetry and listening to music
Book you’re currently reading: “Unbroken Resolve,” by my father, Robert Jones, and two other exonerated former Angola inmates