By Adlemy Garcia, Nana Duffuor, Catalina Bautista-Palacios, Jasmine Brown, Jessica Escobar, Anita Wills, and Diana Zuñiga
Oakland is where women gather on a Saturday morning in March, to ask ourselves this question: “Drawing from our histories, knowing what we know now, what needs to change?” We came up with a list of five demands. We direct our demands as a call to action to movement leaders, policymakers, our communities, our families, and ourselves.
As we came together to review a first draft of the report for which we spent the last year collecting surveys, meeting women outside of jails, conducting interviews and holding focus groups, we took a collective deep breath. This report process and the review that day has reminded us that as much as we are thriving, we are also still coping.
We spent the day sitting with the data, imagining what could be different, and collectively envisioning the campaigns, organizing strategies, and alternative systems of support that could lead us to a liberated future for us and our loved ones. For the first time, armed with this data, we were in a position to dictate what must happen next.
The demands outlined below reflect our unacknowledged labor, deep pain, and incredible resilience. They are a blueprint from which we hope gender justice, race justice, and criminal justice organizations can build to incorporate us fully as leaders in these shared spaces. To women with incarcerated loved ones we hope you will come find us—but not wait for us—and draw from this inspiration to create your own demands.
In order to end the cycles of gendered and racialized harm caused by mass incarceration and rebuild our communities in its wake, we demand the following: