Nine-year-old Kuhmaria VanBuren ran into the prison gymnasium and jumped into her mother’s arms with so much force they almost fell down.
For the next two hours, Kuhmaria let her mom braid her hair and cuddled in her arms, savoring the rare contact. Sapphire VanBuren, 26, has been incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women for over two years.
The VanBurens are one of 30 mother-daughter pairs who come together at the Jessup prison twice a month through the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program. The initiative, now in its 25th year, aims to foster bonds between young girls and their moms, even as metal detectors, locked gates and guards separate them most days of the year.
“It’s wonderful just being able to be in her life, despite the circumstances,” VanBuren said.
Administrators say the program helps boost the girls’ self-esteem and provides them with a community of other children who understand what it’s …