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Organizers Address Prison Reform and Dignity for Incarcerated Women

ReformHER Series Begins: Organizers Address Prison Reform and Dignity for Incarcerated Women
Organizers of ReformHER
The New Florida Majority and Dignity Florida join to host the ReformHER series and announce plans for legislative session

West Palm Beach – The New Florida Majority and the Dignity Florida Coalition hosted their first ReformHER fireside chat in West Palm Beach on Friday, August 16, 2019.

ReformHER is a series of fireside chats and symposiums across the state of Florida to discuss future dignity legislation for incarcerated women and criminal justice reform.

Dignity Florida was created in July 2018 by a group of formerly incarcerated women and allies to expose and address the mistreatment of women and girls in the Florida Department of Corrections.

Recently, the coalition won the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act (SB 332 and HB 49), which guarantees incarcerated women access to feminine hygiene products and protections from abuse.

Panelists Maria Torres-Lopez, Secretary for Women’s March FL; and Nik Harris, LGBTQ Consumer Advocate for the Florida Department of Agriculture discussed the intersectionality of mass incarceration from the vantage point of race, immigration status, gender, and sexual-based violence.

“We brought community leaders together to spark the conversation about Dignity for incarcerated women in Florida and highlight the issues they see,” said Tray Johns, Criminal Justice Program Organizer for the New Florida Majority. “It is incumbent upon us to have these conversations, hold elected officials and systems of government accountable, and advocate for responsible and responsive legislation.

Although the Dignity Bill has brought some changes to the daily lives of incarcerated women, the chat revealed that there is still work to be done. During the discussion, the New Florida Majority announced that the organization will be amending the bill during the 2020 legislative session to continue to fight for added protections for incarcerated women.

“Our goal is to use these discussions to figure out a strategy that will help make sure that women are safe and healthy while incarcerated,” said Valencia Gunder, Campaign Manager for Dignity Florida and Criminal Justice Program Managerfor the New Florida Majority. “We are working towards starting reentry programs for women which will allow them access to their children and their dignity.

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