Our Place DC: Working Towards Restorative Justice for Our Incarcerated Sisters

Lady in prison

We all know the stigma and discrimination that incarcerated women go through after they serve their sentence. It is hard for society to trust them once again. As such, it is difficult for them to develop healthy relationships and get a decent job to sustain their families. We believe that our incarcerated sisters have already gone through a lot. They do deserve to get another chance at life. We ought to give them an opportunity to prove themselves and to improve their lives. That is what restorative justice means.

Incarcerated women face a very challenging situation upon release from prison. There is a heavier stigma upon them first, because they have violated the law and second because they are women. That is why Our Place DC is dedicated to uplift the lives of our sisters who have been imprisoned because they need all the support that they can get. We want to help them transition and resettle in their communities. We want to reunite them with their families. We want to help them have decent homes and sustainable jobs. We want to help them achieve good health. We want to arm them with whatever they need to be able to start a new life. We want to give our sisters a clean slate.

Inside a prison

We believe in second chances. Yes, these women have done something wrong that is why they are serving their time in prison for the offense that they committed. But while in jail, we have to make productive use of their time. The time they serve in prison should be spent for their rehabilitation as we help them become productive citizens of our nation.

Our Place DC works towards restorative justice for our incarcerated sisters. Yes, they have fallen but it is time to help them get back up on their feet and start anew. And we believe that to be able to have a fresh start, they have to be reconciled with their victims. It is not just to receive forgiveness from the offended party but for the offenders to forgive themselves. This is a very crucial step. There must be a recognition of the wrongdoing and admission to one’s self and to others about the offense that was committed. From there, Our Place DC provides counseling and education as we see fit for the person involved. We get to know them and their families so that we can facilitate intervention programs that they need to be able to live better lives.

Our Place DC advocates restorative justice for women. We also stand our ground for the promotion of women’s rights. We lobby for legislation that would support vulnerable families and help improve their condition. We are relentless in our efforts to push for a positive change in the lives of people especially our incarcerated women and their families. We encourage you to go out of your garage doors in Texas and join us in our advocacy. Let us give our incarcerated sisters another chance at life.

How Can the Government Help Incarcerated Women and Their Families

Government

The family is the most basic unit of our society. It is where individuals receive nurturing and nourishment that make them healthy individuals and productive citizens of our country. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure the welfare of its families especially at times when the families could not afford to meet the fundamental needs of its members like the case of our incarcerated women who are still serving their time in prison or those who are already done with their sentence. When families have a low income, it is difficult to make ends meet. They cannot provide for their members’ basic needs. The government makes policies to support and empower the functions performed by the families in the society. To do this, they have to address the root cause of the families’ problems, build their capacities and empower them so that they can be productive members of the society. Family impact analysis is a helpful tool that the government can use in the programs that they implement for families of incarcerated women. It will allow policy makers and program managers to know if the program has met its objectives. This will help them improve the delivery of their service to better cater to the needs of their intended recipients. They can examine its positive and negative effects on the stakeholders and use this information so that they can strategize their programs according to the actual needs of the participants. The Family Impact Checklist is an evidence-based approach that is used to evaluate how a program strengthens and supports participating families in their diverse needs across the lifespan. The checklist concerns the five basic principles of family responsibility, family stability, family relationships, family diversity, and family engagement. These principles work together to ensure the well-being of families. Through this, everyone is envisioned to live a good quality of life – from the material, psychological, social and spiritual domains of human experience. We want to ensure the overall well being of our incarcerated women and their families through the policies and programs that they implement.

Gender Equality

Gender Equality

We should open our eyes to the status of women in our society. We may take it for granted that women are free to take on different roles in our present society. But years before, women have been discriminated against and oppressed just because of their gender. Until now, in some parts of the world, women are not able to enjoy these privileges and high esteem in society. This realization makes us sensitive to gender roles and relationships. We should check ourselves if we hold the traditional view of women as homemakers and nothing else or if we hold men in higher regard compared to women. Of course, there are other cross-cultural factors to consider such as race, ethnicity, and age that influence gender inequality. We have to be aware of these factors and how they affect our way of thinking. As long as women are disadvantaged, they would not be able to fulfill their full potential and contribute to the best of their abilities in our society. That is why there is a need to address the issue of gender inequality so that we can achieve harmony in this world.

We would like to believe that we have taken great strides in fighting for gender equality. We have seen how women are now able to participate in social, political, economic, and educational activities in our country. However, there is still much work to be done. These rights and privileges are not yet enjoyed by women all over the world. There should be a continuous support to educate others about the importance of gender equality. The way we think about women and men shape our lives and the world we live in. It determines the opportunities we unlock and spaces we open up to women and influences how far they can go in our society. We should continue to empower women until they feel free and safe to show who they really are and what they want to be. We should not give up until we reach that moment when we are able to transform and transcend gender relations and see each other as men and women, equals, with the same capacity to make a difference in this world.

Can Social Entrepreneurship Help Our Incarcerated Sisters?

In Prison

Social Entrepreneurship, as defined, is the product of any individual, organizational, or network activity that demonstrates some element of sociality, innovation, and market orientation, irrespective of its legal form (it may be a charity or business enterprise), resource strategy (for profit, not for profit, voluntary sector) or sectoral home (public, private, or civil society). The bottom line here is to make an impact on the lives of the people.

Before we embark on this endeavor with our incarcerated sisters, the questions we ask here are simple. What is the role of social entrepreneurship in the development of our incarcerated women who want to live better lives after serving their time in jail? How do women benefit from this endeavor? Will social entrepreneurship facilitate or hinder their participation in development efforts? Does it play a key factor in the challenge of sustainability? What is the impact of social entrepreneurship in the communities and in the lives of each individual incarcerated members of our organization? How can we work towards positive change?

Our organization aims to assess the impact of social entrepreneurship as a means of improving the lives of our incarcerated sisters and its role in women’s development. We are not just talking about generating income but we are more concerned about its sustainability. Sustainable livelihood and development have been a tremendous challenge for our generation. This is important in our hope of achieving true community development, for our incarcerated sisters to be empowered once again as they become productive members of our society. To empower the people is to give them choices. These choices allow them to take control of their lives and work for a better and sustainable future. All of these can happen with the collaboration of community members, civic society groups, the private sector, and government institutions. The way we see it, social entrepreneurship is a promising alternative in bringing constructive change in the lives of our incarcerated sisters and the communities they live in.