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.”
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On the morning of April 13, 2015, a guard at Sullivan Correctional Facility, a New York State maximum-security prison nestled deep in the woods of the western Catskills, ordered a prisoner named Karl Taylor to clean his cell. By all accounts, the cell, in the prison’s E North housing block—a special unit for inmates classified [...]Read More
“Prison Within Prison: Voices of Women Held In Isolated Confinement in New York” is a collection of oral and visual observations from twenty women about their experiences being held in isolated confinement in New York’s women’s prisons and Rikers Island. They are advocates and leaders on a range of issues in the movement to end [...]Read More
WOMEN AND ISOLATED CONFINEMENT Women held in isolated confinement are subjected to dehumanizing treatment—treatment that makes it difficult for them to maintain their dignity, hygiene, nutrition and personal property. They can get in trouble for something as simple as attempting to talk to the person next to them. They are denied commissary privileges which provide [...]Read More