SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. - Many women laughed over lunch, combed each other's hair and played on a swing set. They spent years in prison cells before calling a Santa Fe Springs facility their home and each other family.
The Custody to Community Transitional Re-entry Program is one of several state facilities where dozens of women, including those with violent offenses, can finish their prison sentences.
"For women, especially if we have traumatic experiences that happened to us and some of us recover from it and some of us don't," Dodi Wasbotten said.
Wasbotten was a hairdresser for 35 years and said a bad relationship sent her on a downward spiral that led to an arrest for using stolen credit cards in 2011. She said she didn't realize how big of a crime credit card fraud could be.
Women can spend up to two years in the program, where they receive help with things such as drug recovery, employment and housing.
Rosalinda Lopez was a preschool teacher who was arrested for driving under the influence and injuring the passenger in the car.
"I drank and drove many times and never got caught. This was the day and I think if I wouldn't have been here it would have been worse for me," she said.
But Wasbotten and several other women said the program has not only helped them map out a new path, but also heal emotional scars.
She said people grieve their losses, deal with their trauma and understand the things that happen to them are not necessarily their fault.
The now 56-year-old will soon complete her sentence. She is looking forward to checking things off her bucket list that she's kept since moving in the facility.
"No. 1 is to hike the Pacific Rim Trail from Desert Hot Springs to Oregon," she said.