Prison guard Lori DiPietro and public information officer Jeff Lyons have seen much of that attitude turned into action.
"It's about doing the best they can to make the right choices in life," Lyons said. "It really changes their whole outlook. It's going to give them a sense of accomplishment, that they're making a positive contribution to the community."
DiPietro is stationed full-time in the hobby/craft room, and has been there to watch Russo teach classes over the last three years. She has also become a familiar face to most of the women working on the bench project, as five of them work daily in the room.
The effort, she said, is sincere.
"They do good work. And they do so much of it, the community service," DiPietro said. "If we ask them to do something, they do it without question. They want people to see them not just as inmates, but as people."
That remains a driving force. The women have varied backgrounds and criminal records, but have been united in that they feel they are viewed a certain way by the majority of the general public. The women have tried to use the bench project and others like it to poke as many holes through that perception as possible.
"There's a stereotype about people in prison," Molina, said. "Any opportunity you get (to change it), take it. Wherever I go, I try to leave a good impression. Whatever I do, I do with everything I have.
"This is our chance to shine."