ReConnect: Making Our Voices Heard
Stacey Thompson, Community Outreach Educator for the Women in Prison Project and ReConnect graduate, provided a moving introduction to Vanessa Williams at the 1844 Medal Award dinner. Here is an excerpt from her speech:
ReConnect has provided me with the tools I need to solve problems on a personal and community-based level. The leadership skills that I have acquired help me to make better decisions. I used to think that I had to accept ‘no’ for an answer, but I have learned that I don’t have to settle for that answer any more. I’ve learned to advocate for myself and come up with ways to address the issues that I am facing.
To me, advocating means I can speak for myself. ReConnect and the Women in Prison Project helped to fill a void in my life and gave me a different direction to focus on. If offered a chance, as I was, formerly incarcerated women could have the same opportunity through Re-Connect to learn how to advocate and to get involved in addressing the issues that our society faces.
After I graduated from ReConnect, I landed a job as the Community Outreach Educator for the Women in Prison Project. With my position at [the CA], I am able to reach out to other women, share the advocacy skills that I have learned, and advocate for women that can’t advocate for themselves because they are incarcerated. These are some of the reasons I love what I do.
Although I spent seven days on Rikers Island, it seemed like a lifetime to me and I wouldn’t want to see other women unnecessarily spending time there.
Imagine if there was no ReConnect. I would have never known that I could go to Albany and address legislators and speak up about the Rockefeller Drug Laws or about the need for funding for more alternative-to-incarceration programs and have people hear the voice that stayed quiet for so long. I never knew that there were people in society that actually care about our issues. I would like to thank those that support our Project and ask that you keep up the good work.”
The United States has 5% of the world’s women, and 33% of its incarcerated women. Women’s imprisonment rose 700% nationally between 1980 and 2014, and women of color are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated. In response to this dramatic increase, the National Institute of Corrections and the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women worked to develop effective practices for women’s prisons through a Gender Informed Practice Assessment tool, known as GIPA.Read More
MARYSVILLE, Ohio — One-month-old Javon Jackson fidgets with his mom’s jacket as he drinks from his bottle and holds her hand. His mom coos. Her friends laugh, and a precocious, 2-year-old toddler stops by and waves hi. In all, it is a typical, upbeat moment for any mother and child — until prison officials tell [...]Read More
“Solitary at Southport: A 2017 Report Based Upon the Correctional Association’s Visits, Data Analysis, & First-Hand Accounts of the Torture of Solitary Confinement from One of New York’s Supermax Prisons”
“The isolation itself is torture. Mentally and emotionally, it breaks you down. Spiritually it strips you. The way it is built is to break you down as a person and push your family away.” From “Solitary at Southport” Solitary confinement is torture. New York State subjects people to solitary confinement and other forms of isolation [...]Read More