What is Sister Inmate?

SISTER INMATE is a Los Angeles-Based non-profit that provides support to individuals affected by incarceration.

In some way, we are all incarcerated too.

 

Our goals are to:

  • Provide a passionate team of therapists, life coaches, Counselors, and mentors to provide emotional support to individuals affected by incarceration, providing healing

  • Teach life skills to those incarcerated in prisons and jails, creating transformation

  • EDUCATE SOCIETY ON THE PRISON AND JAIL SYSTEMS, and what it's like to have a loved one incarcerated, RAISING AWARENESS

 

OUR MISSION: We are here to help restore the justice system and reduce the recidivism rate, one loved one at a time.


CARLEE SANTARELLI, Founder

What my brother did was wrong. Though I do believe there should be consequences for such actions, the way in which society deals with the people who commit crimes is inhumane and even more damaging. It’s a fact that 3 out of 4 inmates will re-offend once they are released back into society, and this is what we need to help prevent.”

 
 Photograph by  Conci Althouse

When Carlee was 12 years old, a devastation struck her family. Her 19-year-old brother killed his wife. He was to serve back-to-back life sentences without parole. Denied an appeal and a post-conviction hearing, it was clear to Carlee and her family that the possibility of her brother's release was zero to none. Ten years into his incarceration, Carlee’s brother took his life while on suicide watch.

"I grew up thinking that the passing of a loved one would be the absolute hardest thing anyone could go through. It's incredibly heartbreaking to experience a loved one committing a crime. I realized what my brother had experienced during his time behind bars was far worse than my experience with his death. 

The pain I felt after his death was coupled with a sense of relief. He was free of his mental illnesses, his memories of sexual abuse, all of the self-mutilation. He was no longer suffering.

Carlee is the founder of Sister Inmate, a non-profit organization shifting the conversation around the criminal justice system. An activist for restorative justice, prisoner support and education-based incarceration, Carlee dedicates her life to supporting the family and friends of those incarcerated all while making communities a safer place to live in.

 

RICHARD WEINTRAUB, Spiritual Teacher

"By giving individuals an opportunity to understand the power of their subconscious mind, which is love, they realize that they are capable of overcoming any obstacles."

Richard Weintraub is a spiritual teacher who, through visualization exercises, storytelling, and creative thinking, helps individuals discover the hidden truths and talents that lie deep within themselves. With the mission to serve in organizations where services may have been neglected, he introduces a more psycho-spiritual approach to mentorship, one that is driven by love over fear.

  Photograph   by  Conci Althouse

Photograph by Conci Althouse

Richard is highly recognized as an educator, legal education expert, motivational speaker, author, and communication specialist. He has held a number of directorial positions for the LA County Sheriff's Department including it's Professional Development Bureau, Training Bureau, Education Based Incarceration, Commander's Task Force, LA CPAC (Police and Fire Liaison), LASD University, and Continuous Improvement Unit. He is a former instructor of the Imagine 21 class for the Pacific Institute and USC Delinquency Control Institute, and is greatly involved with VIDA (At Risk Intervention Program) and MERIT Continuum (Post Release Recidivism Program). He carries a long-standing history with the youth, having served as Director of The Constitutional Rights Foundation, President of The California Council on Children and Youth, and Coordinator of the DARE Plus for California State University Northridge.


WILBERT SWARINGER, Life Coach

"...To allow a person to tell their story is when healing can take place."

Wilbert Swaringer is a professional life coach who helps individuals rebalance their lives through the process of self-actualization. By allowing individuals to share their story, his clients are able to positively redefine their past, this achieving clarity and personal empowerment.

  Photograph   by  Conci Althouse

Photograph by Conci Althouse

Prior to SISTER INAMTE, Wilbert spent 38 years serving as a Pastor in New York, Alabama, Ohio, and California. After suffering from a stroke in 2012, Wilbert was compelled to seek an alternative path in serving his community. With a passion to help others achieve their goals and aspirations, Wilbert pursued two certifications in NLP through The Living Purpose Institute and Imagine 21. He continued on to master his skill through enhancement programs like Landmark, where he was trained under well-renowned motivational speaker Margaret Pazant, and went on to facilitate other programs including Emerging Leaders Academy and Imagine 21.


ELAINE HONG, Communications Director

"I enjoy the work that I do for Sister Inmate because of my personal experience of having a brother incarcerated. It helps me heal, deal with the situation, and grow. I’m happy for the opportunity to find others like me, and help them. To share support and to share the love."

 

Elaine’s advocacy for restorative justice is rooted in empathy, firm in her belief that people are capable of positively altering their lives if they wanted to. A Sister Inmate herself, Elaine was just 14 years old when her brother was incarcerated. She found a healthy way to channel the intensity of her life’s struggles into her education, graduating from NYU with a degree in Media Communications. Her success in the field enabled her to fulfill her passion of traveling the world. Though she understands it to be a challenge, Elaine believes in the importance of empathizing with those incarcerated. “It’s so easy to say that's a criminal,” she says. “It's so easy to take away their identity, throw them in a jumpsuit, label them, and take away their life. I hope we can learn to believe that people are good and people want to change.”

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JESS CLAVERING, Administrative Assistant

"Sister Inmate is my safe place with constant support. In the past, there weren't many places to turn to for support, or to ask questions to directly help us. I've always wanted to give back in helping families such as mine, and this organization helps me do just that. "

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Jess Clavering is a beautician and aspiring nurse passionate about helping those families affected by incarceration. With the goal of creating more supportive resources tailored to their situations, she plans to assist Sister Inmate in creating a transformative program that helps amend society’s fixation on beauty, one that also encourages those incarcerated to rediscover the love and beauty they carry within themselves. Jess is determined to empower others to work together and ultimately transform how we think about those incarcerated.

 

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