By Wendy Sawyer, Prison Policy Initiative
The story of women’s prison growth has been obscured by overly broad discussions of the “total” prison population for too long. This report sheds more light on women in the era of mass incarceration by tracking prison population trends since 1978 for all 50 states. The analysis identifies places where recent reforms appear to have had a disparate effect on women, and offers states recommendations to reverse mass incarceration for women alongside men. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/women_overtime.html
Report Backs Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness-May help keep people with psychiatric conditions out of criminal justice system
by Shannon Firth, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today December 14, 2017
WASHINGTON -- Identifying individuals with serious mental illness early, keeping them out of emergency rooms and jails, and increasing their access to quality care formed the basis of the recommendations of a new committee charged with improving mental healthcare across the country in a report released Thursday.
Great news!!! 2018 4W Summit on Women, Gender, and Well-Being, Our Bodies, Our Earth: Voice, Violence and Peacemaking
April 12-14, 2018
University of Wisconsin Madison
Congratulations! The program review committee of the 2018 4W Summit on Women, Gender, and Well-being has accepted your proposal to offer a full PANEL at the conference...
Our presentation is on Hope, Humanity and Holistic Care regarding the social justice movement and history surrounding women and policies and procedures in the Wisconsin Women's Correctional System. My co-presenter again this year is Madeline Martin a social justice artist whose work details the lives of these strong, resilient women. She is an MFA candidate at UW-Milwaukee and her work is extraordinary. There will also be the opportunity to hear from formerly incarcerated women.
We will have our resource and networking table again. Thank you to the University of Wisconsin...Alice F. Pauser
A time and place for GRATITUDE,
Are you kidding me? You are telling me to be thankful in the midst of these circumstances in this time and place! You want me to be thankful in a world that has gone mad! You must have lost your mind dude.
What I am saying is the ability to have an attitude of gratitude is a matter of choice. Even when it looks like my life is falling apart (and it feels like it is as I type this) the truth is that the pieces may actually be falling into place.
There have been times in my life when I have chosen to be grateful for even the memory of what gratitude felt like, much less had any.
Even fearing that this blog may get lengthy I feel the need to tell a story. I will give you the short version.
In 1992, in the midst of one of the darkest times in my life, I was in Sedona, Arizona at a small mom and pop shop that sold one product. It was kaleidoscopes. Some were very cheap and you would give one to a young child to play with. A couple other ones had precious stones and were ridiculously expensive. You would put one up on a shelf so that it wouldn’t get broken. They both have one thing in common.
I picked up a cheap one and put it up so that I could look through the end of it. As I did I felt what turned out to be a hand cover the other end of it. A man asked me: “what can you see?” I told him that it was so dark that I couldn’t see the light. He then removed his hand and repeated the question. I told him that I could now see light through a blur of colors. Finally I was told to take my free hand and turn the end of the kaleidoscope one click. When I did the light became a brilliant pattern of colors. It was beautiful! I was told that these were my choices for the rest of my life.
Here’s my point to this story. For me when things are dark (or even distorted and blurred) I need to reach out and ask someone to help me make that click.
This story is being written the day after Thanksgiving and asking for us to be thankful. The holidays can be times of great joy, but they can be lonely times feeling like nobody gives a shit about us. That hurts and it can suck the hope out of us until it is hard to breathe. If you are reading this, and it’s hard to make out the words because of the darkness, give yourself a break and reach out and ask for help.
It is a message for all of us. To the ladies who are presently incarcerated (and their loved ones) please have a safe holiday season filled with gratitude for the people who believe in you and will never give up hope. For the ladies who are getting ready to walk out the gate or the ones who are now trying to reintegrate back into the communities you came from, I hope you have made the one click and see a future full of hope.
From all of us at the Demeter Foundation to all of you, regardless of your role in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, know that we care for all of you.
Demeter Foundation Board President,
Amnesty International created a bill of rights for women in custody. The document spells out basic civil rights for incarcerated women. You can read the document here.
I really enjoyed, and appreciated the the opportunity, to join Alice at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution's annual 2017 Resource Fair. Experiencing, first-hand, the joy and hope of the women who were preparing to be released in the coming months was more than inspirational. Some of the women shared their release dates, as well as their plans for after their release with us. It was so amazing to hear the hopes and dreams of these women for their futures. To be able to offer useful resources to them that will help them be successful after their release was truly an honor. Thank you Alice for including me in this wonderful chance to help others. You, and the Demeter Foundation, are such an asset to the women of Wisconsin. Thank you so much for all of your hard work! It's no wonder that our table was the busiest one there!..Kaziah Anderson
Recently we sent out letters again to the women serving life sentences at Taycheedah because we want to remind them that we are there to listen and offer what advocacy we can. We have received several responses and they seem to have a common thread. Concerns about the lack of timely and effective medial treatment, loneliness, lack of programming and depression. The women's prison system is overcrowded and cannot provide the level of services that women are needing. We advocate for positive systems change. Even though these women are in prison humane treatment is a civil right and we will never be quiet about that.
Would you consider giving? We are looking to acquire 300 pairs of new socks for our Welcome home kits for formerly incarcerated women. Every month women are released from the Wisconsin Women's Correctional System to our communities. Many of the women come out with little but the clothes on their backs. Our Kits provide basic personal essentials such as soap, washcloths, tooth brush/paste, deodorant and socks. Kits are shipped statewide. With cold weather coming we try and put more than one pair in each box. Please see the flyer here
New Senate Bill to protect pregnant women in Wisconsin jails and prisons regarding restraints and post partum care. Senate Bill 393. An Act to create 302.085 of the statutes; Relating to: the treatment of a pregnant or postpartum person in prison and county jail. (FE). The you Senators L. Taylor, Risser, Erpenbach and Johnson for introducing this bill. View the Bill here.
ANGER--There is no doubt the best definition I have ever heard to define anger is
"perceived injustice". Something is not fair!
It is the most predominant emotion that fills the air within the criminal justice system as a whole. Running a close second is sadness. There are plenty of others, most are associated with hopelessness. In the three decades that I was employed within the Wisconsin Department of Corrections one of the hardest things for me to witness was an incarcerated individual perceiving that they are living in an environment where nobody cares. Indifference is the attitude of the day.
Some would say why should anyone care about people who have been found guilty and convicted of crimes serious enough to end up behind fences filled with razor wire and the capacity to shock the you know what out of you.
The system as a whole is one thing, but there are many good people working within that system to try and make a difference. We believe that all the women who live at TCI or the other minimum security facilities deserve to be treated humanely. This is not only because of who they are but even more so because of who we are.
God forbid that an employee step up and speak out about the perceived injustice that at times happens. Some are bigger issues than others. Some are big enough that the concerns are brought before federal judges.
The Demeter Foundation, Board President