Two afternoons a week, after lunch, before laundry duty, a dozen women at the Pinellas County Jail leave their pods and thread down a long, dark corridor — through 10 locked doors, past a guard station, into a space they call the Red Tent Room.
Here, the air smells like coffee and sugar cookies. Norah Jones sings softly through portable speakers. Beside wide windows, next to the sewing machines, scarlet hibiscus bloom in the winter sun.
“Welcome! Welcome!” calls Polly Edwards, an artist who helps lead the group.
“Coffee or tea?” asks inmate Jamie Ward, 31, who has taken on the role of host.
The women wear gray scrubs. Some sport remnants of their former lives: chipped manicures and faded hair highlights. Read More and watch video.