People who have been incarcerated face a number of barriers in reintegrating into society. For women, girls and transgender communities, the difficulties can be even steeper. Oftentimes, the effects of incarceration can worsen problems related to housing and employment, and can have a devastating impact on children.
To address these problems, particularly for women, The New York Women’s Foundation recently announced the creation of The Justice Fund, which will aim to do more to dismantle mass incarceration, particularly for women, girls, and transgender people.
This effort is part of a seven-year mobilization of funding to address issues related to incarceration. A press release announcing the initiative stated that,”The fund is the first of its kind in the country to engage in criminal justice reform through a lens of gender and racial equity.”
“Our initiative will create a new paradigm for justice that dismantles unfair and biased systems and creates new paths for stability and opportunity in the lives of New York City women, families, and communities,” said Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, in a press release announcing the new initiative. Part of the goal of this initiative in New York City will be to close Rikers Island and find alternative ways to promote justice, safety, and well-being.
More from the press release:
The fund will harness financial and other resources of a diverse set of funders committed to justice reform for women, TGNC (transgender non-conforming) individuals, families, and communities in New York City. Its framework for grantmaking will target organizations engaged in systems change and reform and community solutions and leadership.
Oliveira noted that insufficient attention has been paid to comprehensive policy and practice solutions that fully center issues of economic, racial and gender justice in their analysis and implementation. When women are jailed, the impact is far reaching and destabilizes families and entire communities, yet gender-specific solutions and long-term solutions for women and families involved in the criminal justice system remain elusive.
While the focus will be on efforts targeted toward women, girls and TGNC individuals, it will also recognize that ending the effects of mass incarceration for them means ending mass incarceration for all.
Community-led expertise, input and solutions will be central to the initiative and will include the voices and visions of individuals with histories of criminal justice involvement, community leaders and community-based organizations, and leaders from academia and research.
Key strategies for implementation include grantmaking and philanthropic mobilization; thought leadership and outreach that supports reform efforts and disseminates best practices; and partnerships with policymakers and leaders at the city and state level in coordinated reform efforts.
Informed by the experiences of system-involved individuals, The Justice Fund will engage in a variety of reform efforts. These include: local and citywide grassroots organizing that supports closing Rikers, with a focus on closing the Rose M. Singer Center early; bail reform efforts; capacity building for the ecosystem of local community organizations engaging in reform efforts; investment in community solutions in the early stages of development in areas such as housing, mental health, and leadership development; and education and training for families.
The initiative was unveiled at a panel discussion titled A New Paradigm for Justice: Centering Women and Families presented by The New York Women’s Foundation and New York Philanthropy. To watch the panel, please visit here.