“Every time that someone talks about Our New Beginnings and passes on the core belief that values the women whom this program served, the program never dies, never goes away.” - Carole Pope, 2000
Carole Pope was a dynamic activist and the founder and director of Our New Beginnings (ONB), a residential Portland transitional and alternative sentencing program for formerly incarcerated women. Active from 1980-1992, ONB demonstrated in its success that holistic, community-centered support and rehabilitation can effectively resist cycles of recidivism and help to preserve and restore families and communities impacted by incarceration. Pope's personal experiences of incarceration informed her understanding of the monumental social and institutional challenges faced by women transitioning out of the criminal justice system. Pope's innovative and tireless advocacy convinced many local legal and law enforcement professionals to support this program and more critically consider the larger implications of transitional resources in these communities.
After she passed away in 2013, Pope's papers were donated to the Portland State University Library Special Collections by Sharon Franklin, a close friend and Pope's co-author of “A Resource Guide for Parents Incarcerated in Oregon” (2003). Committed to honoring and sharing Pope's powerful work, Franklin played an integral role in the development of the Carole Pope Oral History Project, identifying and contacting interview subjects and advocating for funding. By gathering narratives of individuals involved with and impacted by ONB, this project seeks to use the critical power of the first-person perspective to build upon Pope's papers to create a multimedia resource for scholars, activists, and providers creating and advocating for meaningful alternatives to incarceration.