CommPassions Newsletter: Raising their Voices: Formerly Incarcerated Women Speak Out
Mar 15, 2017

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Raising their Voices: Formerly Incarcerated Women Speak Out Women Speak Out 



Photo Caption: Gwen McKinney (second left) joins Susan Burton (far right), founder of A New Way of Life Women’s Reentry Project to launch training with first cohort of JustUS Voices at the Watts Labor Community Center in Los Angeles. Other images below include training session and video production.

The ranks of women in our nation’s prisons and jails are exploding. Their stories open a window into an unsustainable system. Trauma and abuse. Childhood abandonment. Foster care. Homelessness. Substance misuse. Mental illness. First-time, nonviolent offenses. Revolving doors. Generational cycles. These are the threads that weave the fabric and human dimensions of today’s mass incarceration of women.
JustUS Voices | Storytelling for Change℠ will showcase these stories on a variety of platforms through video vignettes, guided storytelling, blogs and social media. Our JustUS Voices team conducted training and storytelling in Los Angeles February 25 and 26 with 15 women who will compose our first cohort of storytellers. To begin the process of enlisting and cataloguing opinions, participants were recruited through a Call for Stories, an online survey designed to learn about their experiences during and following incarceration. Eighty-four respondents stepped forward, indicating sentences ranging from three weeks to 26 years. Mostly from southern California, they also hailed from the Bay Area, New Jersey, New York,Texas, Wisconsin and Washington, DC. They skewed older and many are advocates, leaders and organizers. About 86 percent have attended college and several had advanced degrees in law, education and social psychology.
When asked about barriers to reentry, the most frequently mentioned obstacles included:

  • Finding a job
  • Child/Family reunification
  • Securing a place to live
  • Staying away from drugs
  • Stigma
  • Re-acclimating to society
  • Probation
  • Transportation

Stay tuned as we continue to rollout the JustUS Voices initiative.



Making The Case for Black

If you’re white, you’re alright. If you’re brown, stick around. If you’re black – get back, get back, get back! 
The early titles were Niggers, darkies and coons. Then, respectably, they morphed into Colored, Negro, Afro-American and African American.

When grouped by affinity with other non-whites, we became minorities, ethnic groups, multiracial and people of color. For antagonists of racial equity, the spectrum flows from post-racialism to colorblindness.

But through the centuries, dating back to that fateful journey on the Trans-Atlantic slave ships, what cannot be erased is Black. View more…



Win a Free Copy of “Voice Matters” 


A great addition to your library, our tried and true tales and tips on communicating for change. Send us an email to win a free copy of Voice Matters.

Voice Matters is an anthology of non-fiction essays. Noted contributors like former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, CNN Top 10 Hero Susan Burton and award-winning filmmaker Larry Adelman illustrate how McKinney & Associates enlivens public relations with a conscience, amplifying the voices of those who are too rarely heard. Learn more about Voice Matters. Email us for a chance to win a free copy.


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