Despite having no criminal history, I spent 36 months at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF), the only women’s prison in Oregon, after being convicted of a class A felony. While in prison, I participated in the Family Preservation Project (FPP), which gave space for me to heal and become a fierce advocate for all matters related to dignity for incarcerated women and other social justice issues. I am a single parent of a twenty year-old son and thirteen year-old daughter. My children were twelve years old, and five years old when I went to prison. I am, and was, their sole provider.
I have been out of prison for five-and-a-half years. Since this time, I have been sharing my story, voice, and privilege on behalf of the women and children directly impacted by incarceration.
I offer my perspective, based on having been directly impacted by the carceral system, to Oregon legislators and policy makers. It is my goal to encourage authentic and systemic change targeted at developing trauma-informed and gender responsive practices in our state.
Additionally, I oversee the FPP Alumnae network. In this role, which I have held for close to five years, I organize, mobilize, and provide support networks to mothers, children and families post-incarceration. I connect women to one another, as well as connecting them to opportunities to join our growing movement of directly impacted women working to be the change we want to see in our criminal legal system. I provide support and mentorship for women to participate in spaces where decisions are being made and policies are being created.
Finally, I advocate nationally for ‘rights to realities’ reform, policy, and education on behalf of all children with an incarcerated parent. In July 2017, The Bill of Rights for Children of Incarcerated Parents, was passed unanimously by the Oregon legislature, making my state the first to recognize the rights of this vulnerable population. I was an active participant in this accomplishment. I continue to seek out opportunities to lift up voices of impacted individuals who share a “fire” to make a difference. To create sustainable change these voices must stay at the center of the conversation.
Professionally, I am a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) working as a county crisis mental health worker. I am delighted to join this network of powerful people and building capacity in Oregon to ensure dignity for all women who are impacted by our criminal legal system.