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Inmates find purpose in painting

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

McLOUD, Okla. – At times, there is more paint on her clothes than on the canvas. But Samantha Stansifer is determined to brush a brighter future. Stansifer said, “It’s like the beginning of something new and wonderful and something I never imagined. I’ve been blessed to find this and be able to explore.” 

Samantha is serving a lengthy sentence at Mabel Basset Correctional Center. She uses her time productively, volunteering for small painting projects for Department of Corrections staff. She had no idea of her artistic potential. “Not that I knew of. ” Stansifer said, “I k new I could do my make up and doodle little sheep on a sticky note for my mom. But I never knew I could do half the stuff I’ve done.” 

Several months ago, Warden Aboutanaa El Habti offered Samantha an enormous job. 

With her sidekick, Larae Myers -- She’s been selected to paint giant murals around Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. 

It’s a lot of work, but also a nice distraction from prison life. Myers said, “The bottom line, inmates need things to do. We can’t just watch TV and play spades all day.” 

There is a sense of pride in their work and hope painting can create opportunity on the outside. According to Myers, “This is the first big scale thing I’ve really done. It makes me think I might be able to do this one day for real.” Stansifer added, “Every time I walk by the door, I see it. It catches my eye and I have to take a breath. It kind of takes my breath away that I did something like that.” 

Sometimes it takes the investment of others to finally discover your real value. 

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