Last Friday, VOTE organized the first annual Formerly and Currently Incarcerated Women and Girls Day, our largest-ever public march and rally. VOTE Lead Organizer Dolfinette Martin spearheaded the event with the intention of lifting up the experiences of incarcerated women and girls, whose voices are usually left out of decarceration conversations. The event drew hundreds from near and far, including formerly incarcerated women from Florida, Arkansas, Illinois and Massachusetts who shared their stories in front of City Hall, where the march ended. A Facebook recording of the march can be found here.
Women and girls are the glue that hold our families together but are demonized, oppressed and stripped of their dignity for their suffering. When they are taken out of the home it affects the entire community. Women and girls entering the system are victims of abuse, violence, trauma and poverty. They turn to drugs for healing and theft for survival. They are our sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, cousins and neighbors. “We are so much more than our past but because of our past we are so much more,” said Martin, recalling her own multi-year separation from her five children. “Society sees our convictions but they never see our tears.”
Louisiana still has the highest incarceration rate in the world, ranking 7th in the world for incarcerating women, and Greater New Orleans is the most incarcerated population in the state. Since 1984 the rate of incarceration among women increased by 700%, with Black women incarcerated at twice the rate of white women. Together we can change the narrative and bring fundamental reform to this oppression!