To the editor: As a formerly incarcerated person, I have a question for the public.

Have you been incarcerated yourself? Has your family? If you've answered no to either of those questions, you don't have enough facts or experiences to be writing about this subject. My family and I have been through this twice. Simply being incarcerated and away from your loved ones is a traumatic experience.

I was sentenced to the Berkshire County Jail and House of Corrections in 2012. My daughter was 15 at the time — not an easy time to be separated from your mom. We made it work somehow. My family wanted me to be able to receive education on what I needed to fix. My husband and daughter came every visiting day. Location shouldn’t be the issue; it’s getting better that should be the main focus.

Jail isn’t really designed to be convenient for anyone. You can’t have the men and women come in contact with each other, therefore the women were able to go to a classroom for a few programs that were offered 10 feet outside the "pod" and at night a few that were classified went and cleaned the cafeteria. That's it. Do you think this creates a healthy and healing environment? I can tell you it does not.

Sheriff Thomas Bowler realized the women of his county would be getting more: more movement within the facility to earn good time and more programs in the community to help acclimate them into society by moving the female inmates to Chicopee. I was in the minimum security section of the Western Massachusetts Regional Women's Correctional Center where I was able to go out Monday through Friday working on crews outside and go to NA or AA meetings at night. I never felt disconnected from my county.

The sheriff didn’t just ship the women off; he is closely involved in every decision that is made concerning their safety and well-being, even going as far as hiring a women’s reentry and aftercare case worker to meet with them every week. In Chicopee, we had programs for education and for areas of need such as addiction, abuse, human trafficking, trauma and more. Women are in jail because they need help; let them get the help they need and make the distance work somehow. It’s worth it for everyone in the long run.

Jennifer Thurston, North Adams