Crystal Wyatt is the owner of Ride & Rebuild, a prison visits van service. Her company is dedicated to giving Philadelphia families rides to and from prisons in Pennsylvania. It also supports the women who support men behind bars.
Men returning home from prison face challenges beyond imagination. Reintegrating themselves into society requires finding a place to call home and steady employment. Oftentimes, the families who hold these men down at home are forgotten and neglected.
Ride & Rebuild: Providing Rides to Prison in Pennsylvania
Ride & Rebuild is a prison visits van service based in West Philly. Crystal Wyatt launched the company to provide reliable transportation to prisons in Pennsylvania.
It all began when the man in her life, and father of her three children, was incarcerated. The 47-year-old mother was hit hard by the loss, which left her as a single mother of three.
The man she loved was sent to a Pennsylvania prison three hours away from their home. So, it was extremely hard to make regular visits to the prison.
That’s when the idea of what came to be known as Ride & Rebuild struck her. It was established in 2011.
When the prison visits van service first began, it’s main focus was the men in prisons. It was all about supporting them while there and helping them re-enter society after they were released.
Then, Wyatt’s relationship with her incarcerated lover came to an end. That’s when she changed her focus and made Ride & Rebuild about the women supporting those men in prisons. Wyatt says:
“I still had to do it,” she explained. “There are a lot of women that still have to keep moving, keep pushing and doing what their heart and spirit is telling them to do.”
Racial Statistics for the Prison Visits Van Service
- According to Crystal Wyatt, about 98% of her prison visits van service clientele are Black women
- Of the US prison population, about 67% are People of Color, according to The Sentencing Project
- At some point in life, 1-out-of-3 Black men is likely to be imprisoned, compared to just 1-out-of-17 white men
This made it even more important for Wyatt, a Black woman herself, to bring Ride & Rebuild to the Philadelphia community.
“[The women are] the sole providers for their families as well as the men who are incarcerated,” Wyatt said. “These men aren’t necessarily husbands. They’re sons, grandsons, fathers, boyfriends, uncles. We have women footing the bill emotionally, financially, physically. I would love to have more financial support to support the women.”
A huge challenge both her business and clients face is when clients can’t show up for their scheduled visits. For one, “there is a brother who was expecting a visit that day and he’s not getting it,” Wyatt said. But because women of color suffer from higher rates of poverty, face harsher workplace discrimination, and are hurt more by the gender pay gap compared to their white counterparts, this challenge is often an economic one.
“The population I deal with is financially strapped, so sometimes, the women have to make a choice,” she said. “Are they going to visit or going to send him money?”
Do you know someone who runs a prison visits van service or any type of service that provides rides to prisons? If so, we’d love to do a feature story on them. Let us know about the prison ride service and the service provider in the comments section below. Our audience will really appreciate it.