Eager To Help Mothers, Children

by Andrew Turner

A woman whose name became a household word in 1980 for the murder of a famous Scarsdale, N.Y., physician, broke into tears, Thursday, before a crowd of listeners.

Jean Harris, who now lives in nearby Monroe, N.H., spent over 10 years at a maximum-se@urity prison in Bedford Hills, N.Y., for murdering her lover Dr. Herman Tarnower, author of what became the national best-selling Scarsdale Diet.

For the second time in less than a year, Harris spoke to a group of local residents about her work as a philanthropic ex-convict who learned in prison how to help fellow prisonmates who were separated from their children.

The Business and Professional Women's Club of St. Johnsbury hosted Harris at their monthly meeting last night and listened as she described, with humor and poignancy, her life in a maximum-security prison.

"I was a teacher for 36 years before I went to prison," she began, step-, ping from behind the podium - and away from the microphones - to talk directly to the roughly 80 people who attended.

She said she taught mostly in private schools during that time to children who had everything; two parents at home, a quality education, children who "knew that they belonged."

What she learned when she got to prison, she said, was of the plight of her fellow female inmates whose children were being raised without them.

With the help of a nun, Harris gradually became involved in programs at the prison that dealt with women separated from their children.

After working as a teacher's aide.


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