Friday, June 20, 2014

Free Her Rally, June 21, 2014

For Immediate Release

Washington DC, June 14, 2014-Thousands of concerned citizens and dozens of national organizations from across the country will converge on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, June 21st to demand an end to the mass incarceration of women. The FREE HER Rally will assemble at the Sylvan Theater on the National Mall, Independence Avenue & 15th, from 10:00 am-2:00 pm.
The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), a leading research, policy and advocacy organization, along with its sister grouping, The Black Family Summit and their 24 national organizational affiliates (list of affiliates below) are strongly supporting the "Free Her" rally.

"This protest in the nation's capital will serve to shine a light on the alarming growth rates in the incarceration of women of color, most for minor offenses related to the so-called War on Drugs," said Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute. "This mass incarceration of our sisters and mothers is tearing apart the fabric of family life in black and brown communities across the country. We call on the Obama Administration to immediately intervene and put an end to this horrible situation."
The objectives of the rally are:
  1. To raise awareness of the alarming increase in the rate of incarceration of women in the United States and its impact on our children and communities.
  2. To demand an end to voter disenfranchisement for people with felony convictions and to encourage the passing of the Smarter Sentencing Act.
  3. To ask President Obama to commute the sentences of women and men in the federal system who have applied for commutations.
"On April 23, 2014, the Justice Department announced President Obama's intention to commute the sentences of eligible people serving federal non-violent sentences," says Andrea James, founder and director of Families for Justice as Healing, the principal organizer of the rally. "Now is more important than ever to stand together and join our voices as one to encourage the President to commute the sentences of women serving non-violent sentences. Allow them to return to their children and communities."

Between 1980 and 2010, the number of women in prison increased by 646% overall, with a disproportionate impact on women of color. Black women are incarcerated at nearly 3 times the rate of white women, and Hispanic women are incarcerated at 1.6 times the rate of white women. Most incarcerated women are imprisoned for non-violent drug and property crimes, with many women charged and convicted of conspiracy and other related counts, even though they had minimal or no involvement in the offenses that led to their arrests.

Incarcerated women have unique health and safety issues, which prisons are often unprepared to address appropriately, according to Families for Justice as Healing. Women swept into the prison system disproportionately suffer from abuse and sexual violence. They are particularly vulnerable to being re-traumatized by strip searches, solitary confinement, and staff sexual misconduct. Prisons and jails also often fail to handle reproductive needs appropriately, providing inadequate prenatal and abortion care. Pregnant women are often subjected to dangerous, demeaning, and unnecessary shackling during labor and delivery.

Locally hosted by the D.C. Office of Returning Citizen Affairs, the rally will include organizations, speakers, and individual participants from around the country. In addition to the Black Family Summit organizations, other participating groups include Alpha Kappa Alpha, ACLU of Washington, D.C., Boston Feminists for Liberation, Free Marissa Alexander Movement, the Fully Informed Jury Association, , Mommie Activist, Mothers in Charge, Pittsburgh Northside Residents Coalition, and Women Who Never Give Up.

After the June rally, the FREE HER campaign will continue, with participants calling, emailing and sending postcards to encourage the President and the attorney general to do the right thing and to raise awareness among everyday people of the need to end the war on drugs and the mass incarceration of women.

About Families for Justice as Healing:
Families for Justice as Healing is a criminal justice reform, legislative advocacy organization. At Families for Justice as Healing, we organize formerly incarcerated women to join the movement toward creating community wellness alternatives to incarceration, to heal and rebuild families and communities.  Our membership advocates a shift away from expansion of the prison system and toward creation of community wellness alternatives to incarceration. We seek public health alternatives to current U.S. drug policies and legislation that focus on criminalization, the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

About IBW:
The Institute of the Black World 21st Century is a leading research, policy and public advocacy organization committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people. IBW focuses much of its work on ending the War on Drugs, reforming drug policies and advocating for reforms in racially-biased criminal justice policies.

Black Family Summit Member Organizations:
  • National Association of Black Social Workers, Inc.
  • National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice
  • National Association of Black Psychologists
  • Black Psychiatrists of America
  • National Dental Association
  • National Medical Association
  • National Black United Front
  • National Black Law Enforcement of America
  • International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters
  • International Black Women's Congress
  • National Baptist Convention USA Disaster Preparedness Project
  • All Healers Mental Health Alliance
  • The Royal Circle Foundation
  • Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions
  • National Black Leadership Commission on Aids DC/Vicinity
  • National Conference of Black Lawyers
  • National Voting Rights Museum
  • Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
  • Nigerian Association of Social Workers
  • Fathers Incorporated
  • Mothers for Peace
  • Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association
  • Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
  • Families For Justice As Healing

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