Coalition supporting incarcerated women lobbies Georgia lawmakers

Representatives of several organizations traveled to the Georgia State Capitol Tuesday to encourage Georgia lawmakers to support legislation supporting incarcerated women.

Community members and women who were once jailed want Georgia lawmakers to support HB 475 and HB 345. Supporters say the bills would give incarcerated women adequate access to feminine hygiene products and medical information, and eliminate what the groups consider to be embarrassing practices like strip searches.

The effort is part of the National Day of Empathy on March 5, designed to generate support for millions of Americans impacted by the criminal justice system.

Organizers shared the perspectives of Americans impacted by the current justice system - from survivors of violent crime to those who are addicted to opioids or other drugs and those who are mentally ill to incarcerated individuals working to transform themselves, people with a criminal record desperately seeking a second chance, and all community members impacted by crime, public safety, and violence.

RestoreHER founder Pamela Winn, President & CEO of The National Incarceration Association (NIA) Kate Boccia, and representatives of other organizations such as #cut50 URGE, IMAN, & ACLU, spoke at the event.

Other organizations included SPARK, Sister Love, Spelman College, Healthy Mother's Healthy Babies, YWCA, LoveN Grace, Woman With A Plan, Southern Black Girls & Women Consortium, Mary Kay, Making The Transition, and Feminist Women's Center.

Winn was a pregnant single mother and a nurse practitioner when she was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison. She suffered a miscarriage when she tripped over the shackles that were bound to her feet. Since her release from prison last year, Pamela and her organization RESTORE HER have worked with #cut50 to educate state lawmakers on legislation at the state and federal level that would end shackling of women who are pregnant in prison.

When her son Daniel was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for armed robbery, Boccia experienced all the emotional and financial struggles that come with having an incarcerated family member. Boccia quit her full-time job to start the National Incarceration Association, which provides support for families like hers that have a loved one in prison.

"Families who are torn apart by mass incarceration have an enormous responsibility to forsake things in order to help their loved ones," she says.

RestoreHER is devoted to protecting the dignity, restoring the rights, and promoting opportunities for directly impacted women of color in the south. To achieve this, RestoreHER addresses the social determinants of criminalization and social inequities through policy advocacy of all formerly incarcerated women, inclusive of incarcerated pregnant women.

#cut50 works to cut crime and incarceration in all 50 states by translating local needs into smart safety solutions. The organization brings together formerly and currently incarcerated individuals, community members, crime survivors, local elected officials, and law enforcement to keep communities safe and families together.