Suzanne’s First Day Out

SuzanneSuzanne Johnson swirls around in the salon chair. A clip restrains some wayward waves on top of her head, the rest of her tresses falling in just-straightened rows down her back. She’s a pretty 34. Long lashes, full pink lips, rosy cheeks. A strange contrast to her drab sweatshirt and jeans, the final reminder of her last day as Oregon inmate number 16047521.

“My hands are sweaty,” she says as she removes the plastic cape and steps down from the barber chair.

The three other women in the room—two of whom are prison hair stylists—gaze curiously at her. Perhaps wishing they were in her shoes. Perhaps dreading the day it will be their turn.

One of the women cheers her on: “Enjoy your freedom!”

The three words resound down the prison hallway as Suzanne steps out into the sunlight, just 20 minutes away from her release from Coffee Creek Correctional Facility on March 30, 2009.

(Read the full story here at Inside Out)