|Read the complete newsletter here
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
- Re-acclimating to society
Stay tuned as we continue to rollout the JustUS Voices initiative.