Andrea James & Glenn E. Martin are recipients of the 33rd Annual Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Remarks will given by Kerry Kennedy.
The awards will take place on Thursday, November 17, 2016, 11 am – 2pm at the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.
The event is free but RSVPs are needed by November 10th. Seating is limited. RSVP now at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/robert-f-kennedy-2016-human-rights-award-ceremony-tickets-28527815464.
ANDREA JAMES is the Founder and Executive Director of Families for Justice as Healing, the founder of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, a 2015 Soros Justice Fellow, and the author of Upper Bunkies Unite: And Other Thoughts On the Politics of Mass Incarceration.
On Friday, September 23, 2016 the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls presented a groundbreaking discussion about issues and concerns of incarcerated women. This “Real Women Real Voices” symposium has been recorded and can be seen at:
Part 1: https://yalelaw.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=c90a3d61-38e8-49eb-80d3-1fa8268ed39a (panel begins @ 33:15).
The panels featured currently incarcerated women and formerly incarcerated women discussing the impact of incarceration on not only their lives, but also on their children and families, and the necessity for the advancement of policy around women in incarceration BY women who are incarcerated and formerly incarcerated.
A dialogue around incarceration with a focus on women: National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls and Yale Law School hold Real Women Real Voices Symposium
New Haven, CT Friday September 23rd, 2016 – “Real Women, Real Voices: Where the People Meet the Policy” a symposium organized by the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls and sponsored by nineteen organizations will take place at Yale Law School, Friday, September 23rd from 5:00-8:00PM.
Register at http://www.realwomenrealvoices.eventbrite.com
What: “Real Women, Real Voices: Where the People Meet the Policy.” “Real Women, Real Voices” symposium is a groundbreaking event focusing on the issues, concerns and needed changes affecting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. Four panels will feature currently and formerly incarcerated women discussing the affects of incarceration and the carceral state on themselves, their families and their communities. The Council is the first-ever national organization created and led by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls.
Indiana State Women’s Prison via Video Conferencing:
With Jennifer Fleming, Sharon Collins, Kristina Byers-Escabado, Anastazia Schmid
Affects of Incarceration: Children & Family Panel
Second Chances: Clemency, Pardons & Compassionate Release
The Realities of Reentry: Reentry & Education
Topeka K. Sam, National Organizer, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls and Founder of The Ladies of Hope Ministry. Topeka is a formerly incarcerated woman. (Council Founding Member.)
Andrea James, a formerly incarcerated woman, Andrea is the Founding Director and Executive Director Families for Justice As Healing and The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerates Women and Girls. (Founder of the Council)
Fox Rich, nationally recognized speaker and formerly incarcerated woman, prisoner’s wife, mother of six sons focuses how mass incarceration is slavery and should be abolished.
Barbara Fair, MSW, Founder of CT-based My Brother’s Keeper and People Against Injustice.
Ebony Underwood, creative consultant, filmmaker and Soros Justice Fellow 2016 and daughter of an incarcerated parent.
Kyndia Riley, second year student at the University of Virginia, both of her parents are serving life sentences.
Miquelle West, celebrity fashion stylist living and working in Los Angeles, she is seeking freedom for her mother, Michelle West who is serving a life sentence.
Amy Povah received clemency from President Bill Clinton, award-winning filmmaker and President of the CAN-DO Foundation that advocates for justice through clemency. (Council Founding Member.)
Susan Rosenberg is a human rights and prisoner rights advocate, an adjunct professor, communications consultant, public speaker and formerly incarcerated woman. She is the author of American Radical which explores her 16 years in prison. (Council Founding Member.)
Ramona Brant was incarcerated for 21 years for a drug conspiracy charge. She received clemency from President Obama in December 2015. Immediately after being released she began advocating for other women and had the honor, along and other formerly incarcerated women and men, of having lunch with President Obama. She is employed as a Program Administrator at the Clifton Beers Clinic in New Haven. She is a formerly incarcerated woman now working on obtaining her Masters in Social Work. In 2013, she received a full pardon from the State of Connecticut.
Phyllis “Grandma” Hardy is affectionately called the mother and grandmother by many women with whom she was incarcerated. After 23 years and 5 months, she returned to her family in Virginia on March 19, 2015. She tireless advocate for women and encourages them to use their voices for change. (Council Founding Member.)
Donna Hylton was incarcerated in New York for 27 years and is a prominent activist against mass incarceration, for an end to violence against women and for gender equality. She is the founder of From Life to Life. She has a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Mercy College. (Council Founding Member.)
Starlene Patterson is a licensed social worker and a formerly incarcerated woman. She is currently working for the NYC Department of Education as a Single Sheppard Social Worker providing support to underserved adolescents. (Council Founding Member.)
Syrita Steib-Martin is nationally certified and licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist in the state of Louisiana. After serving 110 months in Federal Prison and upon being released, she returned to college and then founded Operation Restoration, working to assist women as they transition back home after incarceration. (Council Founding Member.)
Ivy Woolf-Turk is an ICF certified Professional Life Coach in private practice and the founder of Project Liberation. She served four years in Federal Prison and is now a motivational speaker on criminal justice issues. (Council Founding Member.)
Babz Rawls Ivy is Editor-In-Chief of the Inner City News in New Haven. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Barber Scotia College in North Carolina and a Master’s Degree from Baruch College, CUNY. She served a sentence in Federal prison. She is the adoptive mother of four children.
Beatrice Codianni is the managing editor of Re-Entry Central, a national website on issues regarding criminal justice and re-entry and serves on the community advisory board of the CT Bail Fund. Beatrice, who was incarcerated in Federal prison, is a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform with a focus on women’s issues. (Council Founding Member.)
Tiheba Bain is a senior at City College in New York City. She is a Justice-In-Education Scholar graduate of Columbia University. Tiheba is a formerly incarcerated woman and a mother of two.
Indiana State Women’s Prison via Video Conferencing:
Jennifer Fleming, Sharon Collins, Kristina Byers-Escabado, Anastazia Schmid
Alice Johnson is currently incarcerated in Federal prison in Aliceville, AL. Alice’s daughter, Tretessa started a petition on change.org and over 100,000 people have signed it. Her accomplishments include being ordained by proxy at God’s Millennium Women’s Conference, playwright, author, certified hospice volunteer and GED tutor.
Danielle Metz via Skype from New Orleans, LA who was just released from prison last week after receiving clemency from President Obama. Danielle served 23 years of a life sentence for a first offense.
When: Friday, September 23rd, 2016 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm (Seating begins at 4:45pm)
Where: Yale Law School, Levinson Auditorium, 127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT
Why: The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls is a national network which supports the work of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls who are in the forefront of change of the criminal justice system by working individually or within organizations. Members support one another by sharing their knowledge and powerful experiences. Council members know firsthand the impact of the current criminal justice policies. We know the realities of incarceration, the many hurdles women face after returning home, and what changes are necessary to shift the system to one based on human dignity and social justice.
By bringing together policy makers, academics, researchers, and the public in dialogue with Council members, we strive to ensure that when policies, laws, practices, organizing and services about women and girls who are or were incarcerated are decided upon, our voices and ideas are included. Our mantra is “Nothing about us, without us!” This is a big goal. We believe it is attainable. Through connecting with each other and freely sharing information, insights and strengths, we are creating opportunities to have our voices heard and collectively build new and just policies grounded in human rights.
The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School, Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Institute for Municipal & Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central CT State University (CCSU)
Yale Black Men’s Union, American Constitution Society at Yale Law School, Green Haven Prison Project, National Lawyers Guild at Yale Law School, Civil Rights Project at Yale Law School, Yale Black Women’s Coalition, Black Law Students Association at Yale Law School, Latino/a Law Students Association at Yale Law School, Black Student Alliance, The Ladies of Hope Ministries, Reentry Central, Families for Justice As Healing, Operation Restoration, The Real Cost of Prisons Project, Can-Do Clemency, Project Liberation.
About the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls The Council held its first organizing meeting in New York City on December 2015. Since then, the Council has convened organizing meetings in New York City, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland and Chicago. Council members live and work in more than 22 states. The Council actively engages currently incarcerated women and girls in federal and state prisons, county and state jails, and immigrant detention centers.
The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (The Council or NCFIWG), held its first organizing meeting in New York City on December 2015. Since then, the Council has been convening organizing meetings state by state. Thousands of formerly incarcerated women and girls have participated in the meetings. Our goal is to include the participation of women and girls in federal and state prisons, county and state jails, and immigrant detention centers.
The two primary purposes of the Council are:
1) To ensure that no policies, laws, practices, organizing and services are made about women and girls who are or were incarcerated without including our voices, experiences and ideas for creating more effective outcomes. Our mantra is “Nothing about us, without us!” Through support, awareness and advocacy, the Council is committed to collectively building new and just policy grounded in social justice, human rights and dignity.
2) To support the work of each of us, as incarcerated or formerly incarcerated women and girls, whether we act as individuals or as organizations. The Council is a place where members support one another by sharing the knowledge and powerful experiences of the women and girls most affected by current criminal legal policies who know the realities of incarceration, the many hurdles women face after returning home, and the harm done to families and communities by the carceral state. We speak and organize from our own experiences and in our own voices.
Effective systems are based on Human rights.
Human rights are based on the principle of the dignity of each individual.
The carceral state, has taken away the freedom and human rights of the incarcerated and also many non-incarcerated people. The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls calls for the end of the practices, procedures, laws and policy that have resulted in systems focused on punishment and control, that combined, have created the carceral state.
By carceral state we mean the 2.2 million people in jails and prisons, the 8 million more who are under some form of correctional control, on probation, parole, in immigrant detention centers and in drug courts. The millions held in jail, mostly due to an inability to afford bail. The two million children with an incarcerated parent and the millions of family members whose loved ones are incarcerated. The tens of millions of people living in communities controlled by extreme policing and the police militarization of communities of color. The $80 billion a year spent on prisons and jails and the millions of people working as guards, “counselors”, “health care” providers, and prison bureaucrats. The privatization of parole and probation. The price gouging by corporations controlling food, communication, and commissary purchases of incarcerated people. The unchecked and overly harsh culture of prosecution that too often results in a defendant’s not exercising their right to trial and a jury of their peers, while extracting plea bargains resulting in excessive and overly harsh sentencing in more than 95% of cases.
Based on our experiences as incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls, we recognize the need to address each and all of the above for the wellness and advancement of our sisters, children, families and communities. We recognize the difference between reform in regard to the immediate needs of incarcerated women and girls and the end of the system of mass incarceration, mass criminalization and the carceral state that has become normalized in our society.
Before, during and after incarceration the Council’s areas of organizing and advocacy
• Inclusion of the voices, experiences and ideas of formerly incarcerated women in policy making
• Drafting and advocating for model legislation most especially for community-based, community-run alternatives to incarceration.
• Raising public awareness about who are incarcerated women and girls and the affect of their criminalization and incarceration on families and communities
• Symposiums, conferences and panel discussions on policy from the voices of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and girls
Community Based Justice Reinvestment
• Consideration of use of community based alternatives to incarceration in all sentencing
• Diversion in sentencing for primary caretakers of dependent children
• Increase of on-demand, community-based addiction treatment for women and girls
• Affordable and accessible housing including transitional housing funding
• Education, skills training, and entrepreneurial opportunities
• Eradication of blanket professional licensing restrictions
• Prison / jail building moratorium
Conditions of Confinement in Prisons, Jails and Detention Centers
• Participation and connection to social justice projects during incarceration
• Ability to organize and use our voices publicly in the dialogue for more effective policy and to receive guidance and support from formerly incarcerated women and girls
• Expanding family visitation
• Advocating for the rights of children of incarcerated parents
• Cost free family video and phone calling
• Gender specific medical care
• Appropriate education and care for women with HIV, AIDS and Hep C including providing Hep C treatment which has proved effective for a cure
• Mental health and illness of addiction services
• Access to appropriate feminine hygiene products, including condoms and mouth guards
• Gender specific programming informed by formerly incarcerated women
• Housing conditions within the prison which respect the rights and dignity of women and girls
• Ending the use of solitary confinement
• Ending shackling of women during pregnancy, labor and delivery, providing quality pre and post-natal care.
• Ending videotaping of strip searches
• Ending use of dehumanizing terms such as “inmate”
• Ongoing, regular and consistent training of corrections officers and prison staff that includes training designed and implemented by incarcerated women and families members
• Compassionate release for the aging, elderly and infirmed
• G.E.D., restoration of PELL Grants and other college degree opportunities
• Access to full and complete state and federal legal research
• In accordance with the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners we demand that the United States allow United Nations inspectors be allowed to visit prisons and jails to verify that the needs of incarcerated women and girls are being addressed.
• Acknowledgment and protection of reproductive rights of women during incarceration
• Continuous review and granting of clemency
Prosecution, Charging, Sentencing and Parole
• Instituting bail reform in every city, county and state
• Eradication of prolonged and extreme sentencing
• Ending the sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
• Holding prosecutors responsible for prosecutorial conduct
• Ending sentence stacking
• Ending sentence enhancements
• Ending conspiracy charges
• Domestic violence and sexual abuse as recognizable mitigating factors
• Shifting from drug courts to community based treatment on demand
• The release of U.S. held political prisoners in keeping with the international human rights initiatives that have seen the release of political prisoners in almost all other countries
• Reinstate federal parole
• Parole Boards that include defense attorneys, psychologists with a background in youth development, practitioners with substance use disorder specialties, formerly incarcerated women and men.
• Ending extended federal probation post completion of a federal sentence
• Decriminalize all drugs
• Eliminating dehumanizing parole and probation practices such as blanket drug testing policies and excessive, unwarranted testing
• Funding egal and counseling services to facilitate parent/child/family reunification
• Collaboration with probate and family courts prior to reentry
• Transitional Housing Fund / subsidized housing and incentives for private landlords
• Educational/ skills and entrepreneurial training opportunities
• Ban the Box in employment, housing and college applications
• End probation/parole policies that automatically preclude released people from communicating with formerly convicted people.
• End prison/jail visitation policy that bars formerly incarcerated people from visiting prisons and jails.
• Ongoing, consistent and regular training of parole and probation officers, including training created by formerly incarcerated people and family members
• End of gross income deductions paid to halfway houses and exorbitant probation /parole fees
• Halfway house living conditions inspected by teams of qualified specialists, including formerly incarcerated people
• Support and fund community-based and community-base half-way houses and treatment centers rather than privatized half-way houses and treatment centers.
• Ongoing, and consistent halfway house staff training, including training designed and implemented by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people
• End of use of leg shackles while on probation / parole
• Hiring of formerly incarcerated people to staff halfway houses
• Formerly Incarcerated people in leadership, decision making roles in NGOs and reentry programs
• Expand the use of record sealing, expungement and employment certifications
• Counseling on demand
• Reinstatement of voting rights
• Reinstatement of SNAP benefits, access to public housing, Sec.8 and TANF for formerly incarcerates women.
April 15, 2016
For more information contact: Andrea James – NCIFIWG