Women on the Rise: Racial Justice Action Center’s First Grassroots Organizing project

                                                                                   

Women on the Rise!                                  

 

Women on the Rise is a membership-based organization of women targeted and/or impacted by the criminal “justice” system. Women on the Rise works to educate, heal, and empower ourselves, one another, and our communities to demand justice, dignity, and liberation for all.

As Women on the Rise, we assert that public safety is created by strong, interdependent communities, and empowered women and families, not by prisons and police.  We honor our lived experience, reclaim our inherent power, cultivate a passion for justice, and engage in bold, collective action to transform our communities and the institutions that affect our families and our lives.        

We are working to reduce the number of women behind bars and to stop the criminalization of our communities.  We build power through grassroots organizing, change policies through campaigns and strengthen our movement through coalition building.

We invite all women impacted by incarceration to join us at our monthly membership meetings.  If you would like to become a Woman on the Rise contact xochitl@rjactioncenter.org.

Our Campaigns and Policy Initiatives:

No New Jail Beds

The number one charge for women incarcerated is forgery (ie writing bad checks) and the majority of women incarcerated and/or detained in Georgia are there for non-violent offenses like shoplifting or simple drug possession. Currently, the Fulton County Jail is so over-capacity that women are forced to sleep on the floor in the jail and the County is spending even more money to ship these women to the Union City Jail.  When a woman is locked up, it can result in her losing her job, her home and/or her children – all of which have much broader consequences and none of which make anyone in our community safer.  Instead of wasting tax-payer dollars by detaining women who are neither a public safety nor flight risk, Women on the Rise is fighting to have that money (and the women) diverted into community programs and services that are able to address root causes (like drug addition, mental health, lack of jobs) so we can build safer and stronger communities.

Ban The Box

Women on the Rise is working with our sister organization Ban the Box/ 9to5 to get public and private employers to remove the box that asks about prior convictions or arrests on job applications.  We are working in a coordinated strategy to take city by city and county by county until we pass legislation at the state-wide level that bans this practice on all job applications.  

Rights Restoration

Women on the Rise also works with and supports efforts anchored by other organizations to eliminate the ban on food stamps for those convicted of drug offenses, reduce and/or eliminate lengthy probation and parole sentences, end housing discrimination against people with criminal convictions among other needed policy changes. 

Recent Work & Accomplishments:

October 2013: Though our core group has been meeting for nearly one year, we held our first Membership Meeting On October 26th and had more than forty women attend.

September 2013: Women on the Rise joined 9 to 5’s Ban the Box Campaign, the Georgia Justice Project and ABLE to host ‘The Real Effects of a Criminal Record’ which drew over 100 participants and created space for those with records to share and learn new advocacy tools for success.  In addition to helping plan the event, we also facilitated a workshop called “Organizing for Power and Restoring the Rights of Formerly Incarcerated People.”

September 2013: Women on the Rise was invited to present to the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-Entry to share our suggestions for statewide policy changes that would improve the lives and opportunities of formerly incarcerated people.

May –October 2013:  Engaged and interviewed over 200 women impacted by incarceration in through our Community Survey process that helped us identify the most pressing needs of formerly incarcerated women and women with criminal convictions.

Feb. 2013:  Women on the Rise led the charge to prevent the City of Atlanta from passing an ordinance that would have banished those convicted of street level sex work.  The Solutions Not Punishment (SNaP) Coalition was born from this effort.

October 2012: Women on the Rise helped anchor a community speak out on criminalization at the Auburn Research Library.  ‘Breaking the Chains’ brought over 100 directly impacted community members, several city council members and county commissioners together to talk about the devastating impact of mass incarceration and to develop solutions to these challenges.