JULY 21, 2021
‘Solitary by Another Name’: How Efforts to Reform Solitary Confinement Are Being Derailed by Corrections Departments
Leslie Credle and Romilda Pereira, advocates with the group who both spent months in solitary, say that it’s essential that impacted people weigh in. Doing so “allows people to be aware of what the DOC is actually doing, versus what they’re telling you they’re doing,” Credle tells The Progressive.
JUNE 1, 2021
Landlords Barred From Using Criminal Records to Deny Housing
A five-year study by the Boston Foundation makes the case that housing instability threatens the health of low-income Boston area residents.
The Boston Foundation's Health Starts at Home initiative began in 2016, with funding for four local organizations that work on the two issues in question: housing and health care. (Disclosure: The Boston Foundation financially supports WBUR.) Those groups hired housing counselors to connect struggling families with resources available in the community, and researchers said that allowed previously isolated families to learn about support options.
MAY 4, 2021
De-carceration as a Public Health Strategy: Stopping the Spread of COVID-19
The second event in our series will consider prison depopulation or decarceration in response to the threat of COVID-19 in places of incarceration. In response to the growing number of COVID-19 outbreaks in these facilities, public health experts, civil rights attorneys, and advocacy groups have made urgent appeals for decarceration.
To examine these issues, this webinar will bring together a diverse panel of researchers, practitioners, and activists to discuss the role of decarceration as a part of the public health response to COVID-19 and examine current decarceration efforts around the world.
March 29, 2021
By & For: Powerful Women in Activism
Injustices of the world make community organizing and activism so important. Activism and community organizing are based on the belief that we can live in the world we dream of. A world where everyone, regardless of meritorious notions of “deservedness” like employment, is taken care of.
Everyone can and should have their needs met; activism seeks to make that possible.
Everyone has an active role to play in addressing society’s injustices. For activists that make this work a primary focus of their lives, that responsibility can sometimes be greater, challenging even, but evermore rewarding. The following women explain what their activism work means to them, the process of that work, and how they take time to recover.
March 10, 2021
'I Don’t Want To Die Here': One Woman's Experience With COVID While Incarcerated
At the beginning of 2021, Lizette Nevarez was nearing the end of her 10-year criminal sentence. She had just four months left before going home.
Then, she got COVID-19.
As has happened since the start of the pandemic in prisons across the country, a COVID-19 outbreak hit SMCC at the end of January. In total, Nevarez and 11 other women at the facility — almost half of the population in the minimum security unit at SMCC — eventually tested positive for the disease.
After the outbreak at SMCC, the Department of Correction announced that the facility, which had only been operating at about 10% capacity, would close temporarily and the women incarcerated there would be moved to county jails across the state that can better support their rehabilitation.
FEBRUARY 3, 2021
Women’s Commission Listens To Testimony About Racial Prejudice & Systematic Oppression in MetroWest
Borden and Credle said that language is not just contradictory in suggesting a prison can be “trauma-informed,” but it ignores the other issues surrounding incarceration that would be better addressed with the $20 million—or $40 million, or even $50 million—spent on a new jail.
Borden’s rehabilitation program will focus on art as therapy to help formerly incarcerated women overcome the trauma of prison and abuse, and Credle runs Justice 4 Housing, which works to provide co-op housing for people recently released from prison.
“When you talk about building new prisons, you are putting out the message that those of us that live in these communities that you are intending future generations to be in those beds”
OCTOBER 14, 2020
CHARLES HAMILTON HOUSTON CO-AUTHORS HISTORIC AMICUS BREIFS IN LAND MARK IN MA SUPREME JUDICAL COURT CASE
How have Massachusetts courts historically treated the question of racial profiling during traffic stops?
Katy Naples-Mitchell: In 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court decided Lora, which established the right for a defendant under the state equal protection doctrine to prove they were stopped on the basis of racial profiling.
Challenging the idea of a pretext stop, that a police officer can stop you on the basis of a minor civil motor vehicle infraction when their real motive is to see if they can find something more.
July 21, 2020
How zoning laws exclude Black families from areas of economic opportunity
Our global pandemic forced us to grapple with truths we always knew but too often ignored. One of those truths is the direct relationship between one’s housing and one’s health.
Historically, racially discriminatory policies have denied Black people the opportunity to live in neighborhoods that give them access to not only quality jobs, schools, and other services, but also health care and wellness support networks.
Just as racism is embedded in the history of housing in America, racism is also reflected in the unequal health impacts the COVID-19 epidemic has had on communities of color.
JULY 20, 2021
Moratorium bill could block women’s prison in Norfolk
Leslie Credle told the committee about the fatal shooting of her daughter, Brianna Hardy, in 2017 and the “mental torture” she has endured since then. But Credle — herself a formerly incarcerated person — said she does not wish prison on her daughter’s murderer.
“I’m here as a mother who wants nothing more than to have that person pay for their sins, to burn in hell, but not rot in a prison cell because prison is not going to bring my daughter back,” Credle, who leads the Justice 4 Housing organization, said. “I’ve lived in a prison cell as well, and I know what the DOC does to people who live in their prisons, and it’s definitely not rehabilitation.”
May 28, 2021
Bristol sheriff’s treatment of detainees is curbed
ICE has a long way to go before conditions improve
Though the two detention contracts ICE just ended (the other is in Georgia) were notorious, in my experience, the facilities don’t differ all that much, which is why I urge the Biden administration to close all detention facilities, including in Plymouth County , and end 287(g) programs, including with Barnstable and Plymouth counties and the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
The 287(g) program allows state and local officers to act as immigration agents, costing state taxpayers for no legitimate reason and putting officers in roles prone to racial profiling.
April 20, 2021
Downing opposes new prison for women
Ben Downing said the Baker administration should abandon any plans to build a new prison for women inmates in Norfolk, saying “investing in incarceration is the exact opposite of what Massachusetts needs.”
Downing took the side of advocates who have said the state should take the estimated $50 million needed to build such a facility and spend it on programs and services to keep women out of prison.
“If there is a genuine desire by state leaders to focus on more ‘trauma-informed’ care for those interacting with our justice system, then our dollars should be directed towards decarceration, community-based alternatives, housing, mental health care, education, job training, and the endless other ways we can support — rather than punish — those carrying trauma,” [Downing] said.
MARCH 18, 2021
Miquelle West Calls on Biden to Release 100 Incarcerated Women in 100 Days
LOS ANGELES — The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls is calling on President Joe Biden to grant clemency to 100 women in his first 100 days in office.
Sixteen of the 100 women are in prison in California.
“Our current criminal legal system was created to disproportionately oppress Black women and serves as a modern-day form of slavery,” James said. “Eighty percent of incarcerated women are also mothers, many of whom are in facilities states away from their children. These children are uniquely harmed, and incarceration of parents contributes significantly to the rates of children entering the welfare system.”
Now, some powerful congressional Representatives, like Ayana Pressley, D-MA, and Cori Bush, D-MO, are listening.
MARCH 1, 2021
lockdown- my friends inside
PBS Podcast interview of Leslie Credle and Lizette Nevarez. Leslie Credle, speaks of enduring telephone calls from friends inside prisons during the Covid Pandemic and hearing the deterioration of their mental health Lizette speaks about being locked down during the covid-19 pandemic, inside Massachusetts prison MCI Framingham.
NOVEMBER 20, 2021
Mass. Department of Correction, mental health among prisoners spotlighted after DOJ report
A 2018-2019 investigation found that the Massachusetts Department of Correction violated the Constitution by providing poor access to mental health care and subjecting inmates to periods of isolation months beyond the MDOC’s own 14-day policy.
“We’ve seen it time and time again. The DOC’s only approach to responding to people’s health is through subjecting them to inhumane conditions. Like extended lockdowns and extreme isolation,“ says Ayana Auborg, a founder of Families for Justice as Healing and works closely with prison populations.
“I experienced seeing my friends in mental health watch and they disappear,” says Leslie Credle, a former inmate who works with the National Council for Incarcerated & Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.
SEPEMBER 24, 2020
SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IS DEVASTATING FOR INCARCERATED MOTHERS AND THEIR CHILDREN
It was May 2020, and Esther Arias was finally going to be released from prison. “My older son had so much anger because he didn’t understand why everything was happening to me,” she said. “My kids have so much hurt.”
Leslie Credle couldn’t stomach the thought of her children seeing her that way: handcuffed, divided from them by an imposing Plexiglass shield, unable to reach out and touch their hands.
Women in solitary confinement face a higher risk of being sexually violated by correctional officers.
These various traumas can accumulate for mothers in solitary confinement, adding to the struggle to maintain relationships with their children.
JUNE 23,, 2020
despite harsh lockdowns, half of women inside ma prisons caught covid-19
“It’s one big solitary cell,” Cassandra Bensahih, coordinator at Massachusetts Against Solitary Confinement, told Solitary Watch. Bensahih said everyone in Massachusetts prisons are locked down at least 23.5 hours a day, and that incarcerated people have to choose between taking a shower or making a phone call during their 30 minutes out.
Leslie Credle, who was formerly incarcerated in Framingham, “living in the prison’s cells feels like living in a bathroom with another person—making lockdowns mentally difficult, and making it nearly impossible to socially distance.
JULY 15, 2021
Court backlogs harm people awaiting trial; fuel community solutions as courts reopen
“God bless them,” said Greater Boston resident Lizette Nevarez, 60, crediting community-based programs for making a significant difference for herself and others around her. “They’re doing it. They’re making a change. This is what we need.”
Nevarez considers herself "lucky for the friends that I had" — including the organization Justice 4 Housing for helping her get into the McGrath House, on top of connecting her with other resources as she works to get an ID, open a bank account and secure permanent housing.Nevarez now plans to become a recovery coach to intercede for others.
May 17, 2021
MCI Norfolk Prisoner Talked Down From Prison Roof
A man incarcerated at MCI Norfolk managed to get on the roof of one of the prison buildings Sunday, threatening to jump, according to other prisoners, because he was distraught he wasn't getting medical treatment.
"He was basically saying that he had no hope," said one MCI Norfolk prisoner who did not want his name used for fear of retaliation. "He was praying and crying and said he was going to die in prison anyway."
"The problem is there is no hope here — it's just desperation and there is nothing to reach for," the second Norfolk prisoner said. " It doesn't matter what you do, how good you are, you're still not treated with dignity."
April 11, 2020
During COVID-19, Massachusetts prisons are a ‘death trap’
As of April 10, Massachusetts has reported the 4th most confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any state in the U.S. As the virus spreads, local organizers are raising concerns about the well-being of the incarcerated population.
Governor Charlie Baker rebuffed calls to decrease Massachusetts’ incarcerated population as other cities, states and countries have done, stating that “we believe the correct position is for us to continue to do the things we’re doing to keep people inside the system safe.”
Over 700 people in Rikers Island have tested positive for COVID-19. In Massachusetts, three incarcerated individuals have already died from the virus.
MARCH 16, 2021
Money can’t buy criminal justice reform. But it can fuel a movement.
For decades, politicians have favored more prisons, more criminalization and more pervasive uses of law enforcement, despite considerable evidence that incarceration does not reduce crime and that crime survivors strongly support rehabilitation rather than punishment. But over the past few years, the political landscape has begun to change. The communities most affected by incarceration and violence are organizing to elect leaders to shrink the punishment bureaucracy and to invest instead in addressing the root causes of harm by investing in safety and health.
To see what’s possible when organizers are properly resourced, look to Los Angeles.
FEBRUARY 21, 2021
Ma builds a new prison outside of the public view
“We have alternatives, but they have their tunnel vision on building a new prison, on being stuck in those ways,” Ayanna Aubourg said. “This doesn’t just affect communities today, but generations to follow.”
“You have all the money for policing and prisons, but unless you invest in the community you’re wasting your money,” Credle said. “Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars to a system that is broken. We can change the system but they don’t want to give up the power.”
“We are working on what’s best for incarcerated women and yet on this other track over here, as if it’s almost oblivious, before we’ve even put out our recommendations the Department of Correction is barreling ahead with building a new women’s prison,” James said.
NOVMEBER 18, 2020
doj report spotlights doc inadequate mental health care inside prisons
“We’ve seen it time and time again. The DOC’s only approach to responding to people’s health is through subjecting them to inhumane conditions. Like extended lockdowns and extreme isolation,“ says Ayana Auborg.
“The prison, the medical service that gets provided in jail is inadequate and right now, it is non-existent,” says Leslie Credle.
“I have people in there that call me that don’t have mental health issues and this COVID lockdown has triggered something in them,“ Credle explains.
AUGUST 5, 2020
HISTORIC SENATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE FORUM, LED BY ADVOCATES
The issue of incarceration and racial justice in prisons has again become part of national debate following months of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.
Senator Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III showed a few distinct differences in how they approach a major concern of the day — how do you reform a broken criminal justice system? And who gets to have a say? While both lean heavily toward making life easier for prisoners, their visions – and track records — are not identical.
That became apparent during a forum on criminal justice Tuesday night, which drew questions from current and former prisoners and was moderated by Andrea James, the formerly incarcerated founder of the advocacy group Families for Justice as Healing.
JUNE 23,, 2020
PRISONS ARE A DEATH TRAP
A drive-by rally organized by Families for Justice as Healing. The women’s prison hit hard by the coronavirus, with 71 confirmed cases as of May 3.“There’s a feasible, actionable solution: we need them to be released immediately,” the rally organizers wrote in an online bulletin.
“Over the last six weeks, our coalition has led a call for folks to ask the Department of Corrections, DAs, sheriffs, Gov. Charlie Baker, and others to release people from Massachusetts jails and prisons in order to flatten the curve and keep everyone safe from the rapid spread of COVID-19
JUNE 25, 2021
Secretary Fudge Proposes Reinstating 2013’s Discriminatory Effects Rule
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Friday published a proposal to the Federal Register that would rescind the department’s 2020 disparate impact rule and restore the 2013 discriminatory effects rule.
HUD said in its notice of proposed rulemaking Friday that it believes 2013's Discriminatory Effects Standard, "is more consistent with decades of case law and better effectuates the Act’s broad remedial purpose of eradicating unnecessary discriminatory practices from the housing market."
May 7, 2021
Effort to bail out Black moms from jail for Mother's Day highlighted by COVID-19 crisis
Before Mother's Day each year, incarcerated Black women are released from jail to the open arms of Gina Clayton-Johnson and the rest of the advocates of the California-based Essie Justice Group.
"It's one of the most moving experiences that I've ever been a part of," said Clayton-Johnson, the executive director of Essie Justice Group.
"Black women have been holding our communities together since slavery," James said. "We are painted as bad mothers simply because we land ourselves in a prison bunk somehow. But women are doing some incredible work under some of the most incredibly oppressive situations."
Apr 7, 2021
The U.S. spends billions to lock people up, but very little to help them once they’re released
The U.S. spends $81 billion a year on mass incarceration, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and that figure might be an underestimate. In 2017, the Prison Policy Initiative estimated the actual cost on state and federal governments and impacted families is roughly $182 billion. Those dollars go to staffing the criminal justice system and meeting the basic needs of the more than 2 million Americans who are incarcerated.
MARCH 12 2021
PRESSLEY & BUSH CALL ON BIBIDEN TO RELEASE 100 WOMEN IN 100 DAYS
The National Council for Incarcerated & Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls assembled 100 women Friday in Washington's Black Lives Matter Plaza to represent those for whom the organization wants clemency granted.
"To tell President Biden to exercise his"To tell President Biden to exercise his clemency authority," Pressley said, adding he can grant clemency to the 100 women "by the stroke of a pen." clemency authority," Pressley said, adding he can grant clemency to the 100 women "by the stroke of a pen."
"When this country incarcerates Black women, their entire family suffers," Pressley continued, saying this causes intergenerational trauma and hurts communities.
FEBRUARY 8 2021
Ma builds a new prison outside of the public view
Testimony came from women of all ages representing numerous Metrowest communities and advocacy groups. Their testimony was told to a rapt audience of 45 which was composed of eight commissioners, three state representatives, and the general public.
The first testimony was provided by Leslie Credle. As a formerly incarcerated woman, Credle stated she was providing testimony as a part of her organization’s advocacy against the building of a new women’s prison in Norfolk.
The issue of incarceration in Massachusetts for Credle extends beyond her personal experience to the issue of mass incarceration plaguing the community she lives within. Families for Justice as Healing represents Credle stated, “communit[ies of] Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan are one of the highest rate of incarcerated communities in Massachusetts
OCTOBER 14, 2020
massachusetts prisoners will be among the first to get vaccinated
While advocates have applauded the state’s decision to allocate vaccines to inmates, they said they hoped it would not detract from the need to take other urgent steps, including early releases to reduce crowding and increased testing to identify cases.
Leslie Credle, Founder of Justice 4 Housing, a group that fights discrimination against former inmates, says some who are still incarcerated have told her they don’t trust the state Department of Corrections to administer the doses.
“‘They’ll take it home to their wives, and we’ll get water’ — that’s what one person told me,” Ms. Credle said. “If I were still in there, I wouldn’t take it myself.”
The DOC will use vaccinations as an excuse not to decarcerate. Which is our main objective to release those who are the most vulnerable.
JULY 31, 2020
covid-19 & police violence strengthen the case against mass incarceration
Stacey Borden, a formerly incarcerated woman herself, saw what she describes as a gap in the right type of care for formerly incarcerated women. Borden founded New Beginnings Reentry Services, which takes a different approach to helping women re-enter the community after serving time. She’s also a member of the Boston-based organization Families for Justice as Healing, which advocates for prison reform.
Leslie Credle is also a member of Families for Justice as Healing and, also, is formerly incarcerated. We spoke with both women about what re-entry looks like for formerly incarcerated women and what incarcerated people have experienced during the pandemic
Thank you, Louis D Brow Peace Institute
choosing Justice 4 Housing as the
2021 Inform, Influence, Impact grant recipient