Activist for Criminal Justice Reform, Alice Marie Johnson, joined the first ever ReformHER Symposium in South Florida to expose disparities and injustice for incarcerated women
Miami, FL – A movement seeking dignity for incarcerated women in Florida is picking up steam and gearing up for the legislative session in 2020. The New Florida Majority and the Dignity Coalition hosted this week the first ever criminal justice reform symposium focused on incarcerated women, called ReformHER, with over 200 participants, mostly formerly incarcerated women themselves.
The symposium had national activist Alice Marie Johnson as keynote speaker. Johnson was serving a life sentence for non-violent drug trafficking until June 6, 2018, when President Donald Trump commuted her sentence at the urging of Kim Kardashian West.
“Women are now being incarcerated at an 800% rate from just a decade ago,” said keynote speaker Johnson to the standing room only audience. “The prisons are starting to be filled with mothers, daughters, sisters, and grandmamas. They’re being filled with us. If we don’t use our voices and do something about what’s happening to us it’s not going to stop.”
This year, Dignity Florida, a diverse coalition of partners from across the state of Florida, succesfully pushed to pass the first legislation to guarantee that incarcerated women have access to hygiene products. The coalition is building up momentum to continue the fight for rights and dignity in the upcoming legislative session in early 2020.
The theme of the ReformHER symposium focused on exploring the exploitation of families and women by the carceral state. The event was hosted by artist Lyriq Tye, and featured a lineup of panelists including President Barack Obama clemency recipient Cheryl Howard, former music teacher Marilyn Walker, and other formerly incarcerated women leading the charge in Florida to ensure dignity for women in the criminal justice system.
“ReformHER continued the dialogue started by the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act by highlighting the need for conversations about criminal justice reform and how women and adult children of incarcerated parents deal with the trauma of incarceration,” said Tray Johns, Criminal Justice Program Organizer at the New Florida Majority. “I’m encouraged by the amazing interest and success of the event.”
The ReformHER Symposium is one of a series of events across Florida to discuss criminal justice reform from the perspective of women’s rights. The series will explore the intersectionality of mass incarceration from the vantage point of race, immigration status, gender, and sexual-based violence, and will address specific legislative initiatives to guarantee dignity for incarcerated women in Florida.
Photos of the first ReformHER Symposium can be found here.