Building Confidence in the Women at the Gadsden Facility

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Kylee Copeland, Gadsden Correctional Facility

Kylee Copeland is a member of the Toastmasters club at the MTC-operated Gadsden Correctional Facility. She was recently chosen by her fellow club members to represent them at an international competition which was held via Zoom. On the strength of her speech, Kylee made it to the finals, representing the only club from a correctional facility to do so. Another club member, Samantha Robson, made it to the finals in the Evaluation portion of the competition.

At a recent club meeting, just a few days before the event, they prepared for the championship contest. Kylee spoke about how she felt going into the competition.

“I am honored that our group chose me to be the one to represent our club. I’m nervous because it’s very much outside my comfort zone. At the same time, I’m very honored.”

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Gadsden Correctional Facility

Toastmasters is a speech club designed to build self-confidence.

“I’ve seen that really do wonders for some of these women here,” explains Warden Jerry Buscher, “as far as giving them the confidence to go sit for an interview, or just to carry on a conversation; a good conversation with an individual.”

Kylee expresses her appreciation for the facility’s support.

“A lot of correctional facilities have ‘gavel clubs’ which is, I guess, like the off brand of Toastmasters, and they don’t have the fees that Toastmasters has. So, MTC pays our dues every six months. And our staff here work very hard to make sure that we have the supplies we need, the space we need. We have some of our security staff members who come and speak to us and give speeches to us. It kind of lets them see what we’re about and kind of see a different side of them. Everybody’s really very, very supportive.”

In addition to staff members, the Toastmasters club is facilitated by dedicated volunteers, like Patty Goodwin.

“People are preparing themselves for success,” says Patty. “[They are] preparing themselves to be with their families, with their loved ones when they leave here, and they’re making the best possible time they can with their experience here. And that’s just rewarding itself to see. And their enthusiasm, their humor. It’s just wonderful.”

The Gadsden facility’s efforts to support the Toastmasters club, as well as its overall philosophy to promote rehabilitation, has made an impression on Patty.

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Patty Goodwin, Gadsden Correctional Facility

“I don’t care what people say at other facilities,” she says, “I know here people are truly invested in what these ladies can do for themselves. They are really positioned to succeed once they leave. We’re doing the best possible thing we can for them here, and this institution has been thoroughly supportive of that.”

So, what happened at the international speech competition finals? Samantha took second place in the Evaluation portion. And in the speech contest, Kylee took first!

About Gadsden Correctional Facility

Gadsden Correctional Facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association—
achieving 100% compliance for both mandatory and non-mandatory standards in
its most recent audit. Other accreditations and certifications include the Correctional
Education Association and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).