The following was posted in YES! Magazine on April 25, 2014.
Meet the Real-Life Inmates Fighting for Mothers' Rights at "Orange Is the New Black" Prison
On issue after issue, women prisoners have learned be their own strongest advocates
by Victoria Law
The Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Conn., is the prison made famous by Piper Kerman’s memoir-turned-Netflix-show “Orange is the New Black.” It’s also where the real-life group Families for Justice as Healing got its start.
In the fall of 2010, at a table in Danbury’s prison yard, five women decided that incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women needed to be part of the process of drafting and advocating for legislation that affects their lives and freedom. They decided to start to form such a group, modeling it after a very effective—if otherwise utterly opposite—organization: the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC brings together state legislators and corporations to draft model legislation, such as Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant legislation SB1070 and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
Incarcerated women needed to be part of the process of drafting the legislation that affects their lives and freedom.
“I couldn’t think of an existing organization like this that mass-produced legislation working on the side of the people,” wrote Families for Justice as Healing co-founder Andrea James in her prison memoir Upper Bunkies Unite.