Elaine Roulet

Sister Elaine Roulet spent her energy and creativity helping some of society’s most sharply disadvantaged people – the children of women in prison.

A Sister of St. Joseph, Roulet had been a family liaison with the Bedford Hills Correction Center in Bedford Hills, New York beginning in 1970. In 1980 she became founder and executive director of Providence House, Inc., affiliated with Catholic Charities, which includes multiple sites offering shelter for battered women and families, homeless women, temporary housing for women released from prison, and more. In the same year Roulet founded and became director of the Children’s Center at Bedford Hills, which includes a parenting center, children’s playroom, nursery and infant center. She created support programs for mothers and their babies in prison, where this unique program permitted mothers whose babies were born in prison to keep them for as long as one year.

The Bedford Hills program has become a national model for prisons, overturning conventional wisdom about prisons, women, and their children. Roulet said, “Some people say that babies shouldn’t be in prison. The baby doesn’t know he is prison, but he does know that he’s with his mother.”

Year Honored: 1993
Birth: 1930 - 2020
Achievements: Humanities