From PHN Issue 30, Fall 2016
The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls 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 prisons, jails and policing do to families and communities. 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 Council advocates for changes in government policy and builds public awareness about conditions in prisons, jails and detention centers; prosecution, charging, sentencing and parole; re-entry after incarceration; and community-based justice reinvestment. Here are just a few of the many changes the Council is pushing for:
- Gender-specific medical care in prisons, jails and detention centers
- Appropriate education and care for incarcerated women with HIV, AIDS and hep C, including providing hep C treatment, which has proved effective for a cure
- Ending shackling during pregnancy, labor and delivery; providing quality prenatal and postnatal care
- Compassionate release for the aging, elderly and infirm
- Domestic violence and sexual abuse as recognizable mitigating factors in court
- Shifting from drug courts to community-based drug treatment on demand
Editors’ Note: This is a shortened version of the Declaration of the Establishment and Purposes of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. For the complete version, write to the Council or visit http://thecouncil.us/
The Council has just begun and is in the process of developing how it will function. Now is a great time to become a member, so you can help build it from the ground up! If you write to them and say you want to be a member, they will add you to the Council list. They do not have a newsletter yet, but they are planning on writing and mailing out a newsletter in the future. The Council welcomes trans women and gender nonconforming people.
For more information or to get involved, write to the Council:
42 Seaverns Avenue
Boston, MA 02130