Our issues, our voices

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pauline Latu was held in shackles off and on 
for the 7 months she was in Contra Costa County 
jail. She gave birth three weeks after her release.
Pauline is shown here with her partner and two 
children. Pauline got in touch with advocates while 
incarcerated and was an inspiration for AB1900.   
Photo credit: Legal Services for Prisoners 
with Children
We love seeing ourselves in the news! Making it, analyzing it and telling our stories.

We are so excited about the work that the Center for Young Women’s Development has done through their experience at the Women’s Policy Institute to pass a bill to end the shackling of pregnant women in CA’s prisons and jails. The Center is an EMERJ Strategy Team organization, and as part of our Strong Families Initiative, we partnered with them to do media work around this important bill.

Incarcerated women have a right to safety and dignity…always, including when they are giving birth.

LeaJay Harper runs the Young Women United program at the Center, and every day she works with young women in the criminal justice system, or transitioning out, every day. She wrote this amazing piece in support of AB1900, the bill she is working hard to turn into law. Not only did this piece run on RH Reality Check, it also ran in the Oakland Tribune and the Contra Costa Times. This means a lot to us all, because while we want to speak to policy makers including the Governor to remind them to do the right thing, we also want to make sure that every-day people know this bill is pending and know we are fighting for rights and dignity of people inside. And this way, when the Governor signs, we can celebrate together.

And guess what? It has already passed the State Assembly and the State Senate, and is sitting on the Governor’s desk. He needs to take action by September 30. We are hopeful….but we are not sitting around quietly hoping!

We also helped get several other pieces written and posted. Through relationships that LeaJay and other partner organizations (including Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and the ACLU of Northern California) built in support of the bill, we were able to get a wonderful Ob-Gyn named Carolyn Sufrin to write and publish an OpEd that ran in the SF Chronicle and online at RH Reality Check.

LeaJay and her team also met with the folks at the California Commission on the Status of Women, and were able to get a commissioner to write in support of the bill as well. Britta Guerrero is a Commissioner, and is the CEO of the Sacramento Native American Health Center, and wrote this bold piece which ran in the Sacramento Bee.

And then with Facebook, twitter, and good old email, we are feeling confident that our allies, friends and neighbors are hearing about this important work. We promise to let you know when the Governor takes action…and whatever he does, we are prepared to celebrate how far we came, and organize for what comes next.

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