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RestoreHER Remains at The Forefront to Shatter the Stereotypes Associated with Women of Color

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RestoreHER US.America, an Atlanta-based non-profit policy advocacy organization, has been known explicitly for its endeavors to protect the rights of mass incarcerated, marginalized pregnant women and women of color through education and advocacy campaigns along with empowering women leadership. Today, we focused on taking a more in-depth glance at what this incredible organization strives to achieve and how it is formulating its policies to fulfill its mission.

Comprehending the Concept Behind RestoreHER

RestoreHER is the voice of the “voiceless” women, and we bring awareness to their plight. The conversations around mass incarceration predominately focus on men. The criminal justice system and the reform movement have not traditionally considered the needs of women. Pregnant women present unique challenges for correctional systems that are inadequately addressed. Even though women are the fastest-growing population of incarcerated people in the United States, there is limited data regarding incarcerated women, including how many are pregnant, have abortions, miscarriages, give birth, or studies of gender difference in incarceration. More than 80% of incarcerated women are primary caretakers, disproportionately women of color, low income, have mental health issues, and suffer the trauma of surviving some type of abuse. Some enter the prison and jail pregnant, often first learning of the pregnancy upon intake. However, incarcerated women have been made “invisible” and marginalized due to the “masculine” orientation, misogyny, and militaristic nature of prison systems.

This inconsideration is evident by continued dangerous, inhumane practices such as shackling women during childbirth and the use of solitary confinement, which perpetuates trauma. Additionally, the lack of current, accurate data, insufficient number of women correctional officers, the sparseness of medical staff, inadequate medical care, and lack of programming are issues that are often ignored in a correctional setting. These practices of the “justice” system can have lasting severe safety and health implications resulting in women returning to their communities in far worse conditions than when they entered the system.

Intersectionality has been the basis of disproportionality for women of color, which has created a deficit of their socioeconomic needs being met. In addition, the criminalization of activities deployed by women of color for survival to meet their socio-economic needs has deemed them as “high risk” and the ideology for mass incarceration.

RestoreHER Strives to Empower Incarcerated Women

RestoreHER established an educational program, UNLOCKED MINDS, in partnership with Spelman College. The program includes a book club and RestoreHER LeadHERship curriculum with the ultimate goal of college credit courses for incarcerated women. UNLOCKED MINDS currently serves Whitmore Women’s Facility and aims to expand throughout Georgia correctional facilities in 2020 by exploring collaboration opportunities with Clark, Morehouse, and other HBCU Social Justice Programs.

RestoreHER being the Core member of the Southern Black Girls and Women Consortium, strives to bolster various southern organizations for girls and women of color with programming, curriculum, and funding throughout the southeastern United States. This network serves to empower girls and women from black communities to pursue education, which remains to be a basic human right.

RestoreHER also contributed to mobilizing formerly incarcerated women of color, organizing incarcerated pregnant women, and partnering with directly impacted women-led organizations, creating RestoreHER DIGNITY campaigns in order to share their stories to provide timely relevant information to advocate policy change regarding dignity and restoration of rights.

One of the amazing and incredible awareness endeavors by RestoreHER was accomplished in collaboration with Nick Fesette, Asst. the assistant Professor of Emory University Oxford, School of Theatre, producing “T.R.A.S.H. (Traumatic Realities American Society Hides),” a play that highlights the stories of experiences of directly impacted women with the criminal justice system bringing awareness and educating the public.

In 2019 RestoreHER initiated a Soros Justice awarded, comprehensive wellness, rehabilitative, and leadership fellowship program with GA State University’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence in collaboration of community, policymakers, and several local organizations for cohorts of 10 directly impacted and formerly incarcerated women of color throughout the southern region of the United States. Through Renew Rebuild RestoreHER LeadHERship (RRR), RestoreHER provides a diversion program for directly impacted women by fulfilling their socio-economic needs. The formerly incarcerated women will receive reentry self-help tools and collectively the entire cohort will garner leadership training to transform the criminal justice system as advocates, lobbyists, and legislators making policy changes.

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