Building a Loving & Powerful Community
The incarceration of a loved one is a life altering experience. Women with incarcerated loved ones take on an extraordinary financial and emotional toll as we strain to bring resources into our families in the context of often overwhelming criminal justice costs (phone calls, prison visits, commissary bills, attorney fees, bail bonds debt, and more). Moreover, the separation from a loved one by prison or jail is traumatic. Although millions of people experience the effects of mass incarceration, social support for women with incarcerated loved ones can be hard to find due to the intense stigma surrounding incarceration. The result is isolation. Women with incarcerated loved ones experience significant or extreme isolation, which is a barrier to our health, joy, and power to create change in our families and communities. Read more in our report “Because She’s Powerful: The Political Isolation and Resistance of Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones.”
Breaking Isolation from Healing to Advocacy
Our nine-week Healing to Advocacy model works to break isolation, increase wellness, and facilitate personal and community transformation among women with incarcerated loved ones. Women who join one of our cohorts commit to nine-weeks of 3 hour weekly sessions. During the nine weeks,12 -15 women move together through individually held pain to begin journeys of collective healing, share resources that offer beams of support to families during crisis, and gain confidence to advocate for change. To reduce barriers for women’s leadership, Essie provides transportation support, childcare, and meals. All cohorts are facilitated by graduates of our Healing to Advocacy program and follow three pillars: advocating for self, advocating for family, and advocating for community.
Our Nominations Process
Joining Essie begins with a nomination. Incarcerated men and women serve as the organization’s most important partners, writing nomination letters about the women in their lives, which they mail to us. The women they write about are then invited to join our Healing to Advocacy cohorts. If you are a woman with an incarcerated loved one, you can also nominate yourself. Formerly incarcerated people, or members of the community may also nominate. Click here to fill out a nomination form.
“My sister is the most extraordinary woman…she takes care of my children in my absence along with her own children and household…If anyone in my life deserves a nomination for being supportive, loving, and understanding, and deserves those things in return, it is my loving sister.” – Nomination from incarcerated person in California
We Welcome Transgender Women and Gender Nonconforming People
The extreme isolation and violence that transgender women, particularly Black and Brown transgender women, and those who challenge the gender binary encounter has led to tragic consequences for individuals, families, and society at large. If you are a transgender woman or a gender nonconforming person, are interested in joining an Essie cohort, and would like to learn more about what it might feel like to be a part of our groups, please reach out to us at [email protected]. We will schedule a phone call with a loving member of our staff team, and connect you with queer, transgender, or gender nonconforming women in our community who can candidly share with you what their experience was like as they went through, facilitated, or otherwise supported the nine-week process.
Email [email protected] for more information on our Healing to Advocacy program.