Oval Miller, Sr.
Founder & CEO

We proudly dedicated this center in the name of Charlotte Merritts Ottley, who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to our program since its inception. Her professional achievements are noteworthy, as well as her passion to serve others.

We are proud of helping women transition into fulfilling lives that are substance free.


Living Room

About the (BASIC, Inc.) Charlotte Merritts Ottley Transitional Women’s Center:

The Transitional Women’s Center will focus on two specific areas: 1) Legitimizing abstinence from all mood altering chemicals for women and 2) Training those who successfully complete the program to craft solutions to the problems facing African American women in the criminal justice system or family court.  The Center has employed a diverse group of women who have had direct experiences with the criminal justice system and social services such as child welfare and public assistance and also homelessness.  The Center includes women who are college students, social service professionals, qualified professional therapists, and dedicated advocates.  They all work together to transform their personal experiences into strategies for change.

Why do communities need the Charlotte Merritts Ottley Transitional Women’s Center?

Reception Area

  1. The alarming rate of growth in women’s incarceration has a devastating impact on women and on their families and communities.
  2. Women enter the criminal justice system with a variety of issues such as substance abuse, poverty, domestic violence, mental and other health concerns, homelessness, and low levels of formal education.

The Charlotte Merritts Ottley Transitional Women’s Center strongly believes that if these issues were addressed on the community level, many women might never enter the criminal justice system, let alone prison.

African American women and the pathways to Criminal Justice Involvement

Conference Room

  1. Many women who end up in the criminal justice system are struggling with the disease of addiction.  In the City of St. Louis over 90 percent of incarcerated women have a history of substance abuse.  Addictions often stem from low self esteem, domestic violence, and past trauma.
  2. Many women have been emotionally, physically, and mentally abused.  Approximately 80 percent of women in Missouri correctional facilities were severely abused as children, and more than 85 percent have been physically or sexually abused at some point during their adult lives.
  3. Many African American women who have experienced trauma and abuse are often made to feel like they will never amount to anything, and as a result question their self-worth.
  4. Some turn to drugs to medicate themselves or they commit crimes in an attempt to gain love or attention from another.
  5. For others, drugs become a way into new social circles, a way to alleviate loneliness and form bonds with other people.
  6. Other women become involved in the criminal justice system because untreated mental health issues lead them to participate in criminal activity.
  7. In 2004, 73 percent of women incarcerated in state prisons had a clinical mental health diagnosis or symptoms, or received help from a mental health professional in the previous year.
  8. Women’s economic situation plays a big part in their decisions to supplement their income illegally.  Approximately 37 percent of incarcerated women made less than $600 per month before their arrest.
  9. Often, women are the breadwinners and caretakers of the household.  Many have limited education and face a lack of job opportunities.
  10. Nationally, 7 out of 10 women involved in the criminal justice system have children under the age of 18.  The incarceration of a mother breaks up the foundation of the family, causing the children the trauma of separation and puts a strain on the other family members left behind.

Nursery / Day Care

Charlotte Merritts Ottley Transitional Women’s Centers Recommendations for Change:

The Center advocates the reliance on community-based programs, not prison, to treat addiction, mental health issues, and underlying trauma:

  1. The Charlotte Merritts Ottley Transitional Women’s Center will work to increase funding for alternatives to incarceration and drug treatment programs, and make those services available to more women.
  2. Ensure the delivery of quality, affordable health care to all women, including substance abuse, physical and mental health care.
  3. Increase awareness about what health and mental health services are covered by insurance providers and state and federal funding.
  4. Identify resources within the community that will provide low cost supportive services and make those services more readily available.
  5. Identify within the existing continuum of care more resources that are gender specific for substance abusing women.
  6. The Transitional Center recognizes that “traditional” program models are not effective in gender specific substance abuse programs.  We recognize that different people will need different interventions: residential/non-residential, family/single, faith based/non-faith based, AA/NA, detox programs, etc.
  7. The Transitional Center recognizes that there are many ways to tend to one’s spiritual needs:  involvement in church or other organized religious communities, anonymous recovery groups, self help books, meditation and yoga, exercise, etc.

The need to transition women safely back into the community without sending them to prison is inclusive within the Centers mission

Case Worker Office

  1. The Transitional Center will work closely with the courts to provide opportunities for alternatives to incarceration for women.  These alternatives will include but are not limited to, probation, supervised community service, mandated substance abuse treatment and other supervised therapeutic community based strategies.
  2. The Center will work with the courts to enhance probationary options for women by: encouraging the courts or criminal justice referrer to shorter, targeted sentences; better communications between probation officers and Transitional Women’s Center professional staff.
  3. The Transitional Women’s Center will ensure that all participants will have access to job preparation services with employment placement, education, health and mental health services while on probation and participating in treatment at the Transitional Women’s Center.
  4. The Transitional Women’s Center will work with local communities to develop and implement “Social Policy” for the neighborhood watch program so that communities can work in partnership with police to safeguard themselves.
  5. Structured chemical free activities along with enhanced community based education weekly, along with recreation and peer aftercare support groups will attract community and family members and provide more productive ways to spend their time.

CMO TWC Boutique

Education is derived from the Latin word “educate” which means to “bring forth”.  Education can break the cycle of poverty, low self worth, self-destructive behavior and crime, thereby bringing forth the best in women.

  1. The Transitional Women’s Center will work to increase opportunities for women to receive literacy training along with basic education.  These training opportunities will address the problem of poor academic foundations that tend to restrict women from achieving their GED.  The Center will provide tutoring assistance programs so that more women can take advantage of these in-house resources.
  2. The Transitional Women’s Center staff will encourage women to not only seek a basic education (GED) but also pursue college and higher education.  The staff will work to identify low or no-cost education options by identifying government grants or private funding to women who are involved with the criminal justice system or leaving incarceration.
  3. The Transitional Women’s Center will make education and job training along with substance abuse treatment a greater component of existing alternatives to incarceration programs.
  4. The Transitional Women’s Center will provide in-house child care so mothers can attend substance abuse treatment and be available to take advantage of all therapeutic activities offered by the Center.
  5. The Transitional Women’s Center will provide in-house an increased awareness of existing life skills programs such as parenting, home maintenance and financial management so that more women can take advantage of these resources.
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