The ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE campaign is a recognition that we cannot end violence against women without ending all intersecting forms of oppression and injustice: poverty, racism, homophobia, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy.
The United States – with 5% of the world’s population and a staggering 25% of the world’s prisoners – has created a system of mass incarceration, with 2.3 million people behind bars and nearly 5 million more on probation or parole. The vast majority of this massive incarcerated population is poor, Black and Hispanic, with women being the fastest-growing segment.
Injustice in correctional institutions is widespread. Sexual abuse is rampant, and few prisoners are provided adequate access to healthcare. Many women lose their parental rights, and some are forced to give birth in shackles.
With little to no programming in place to help prisoners reflect on or come to terms with their history, trauma, and crime, the criminal justice system further oppresses prisoners. And, when women and men are released from incarceration, they are met by an unwelcoming world that stigmatizes formerly incarcerated individuals, creating even more barriers that prevent them from becoming healthy and productive members of society.
The ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE U. S. Prisons Project is asking one of the most pressing questions of our time: What could true justice look like?
Can we imagine systems of justice that examine the roots of violence and illuminate how racism, oppression, poverty and economic inequity create violence?
We believe people have an alternative vision of justice that needs to be voiced and shared. On February 14, 2014, ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE will ask men, women and youth in U.S. prisons and jails—whether incarcerated or staff —what their vision of justice looks like: for themselves, for their victims, for their perpetrators, for their families, and for their communities. They will join billions of people around the planet who are rising in their communities, demanding an end to violence and calling for justice for women.
Through poetry, art, spoken word, music, song, dance, testimony, conversation, and theater, prisoners and staff will express their vision of justice.
Prison staff and inmates interested in participating in a rising should contact us at: prisonsrising(at)onebillionrising.org.
The US Prisons Project was developed in partnership with formerly incarcerated V-Day activists and prison activists.
What is the One Billion Rising U.S. Prisons Project Advocating for?
- Access to college education in prison through Pell Grants and other means so that prisoners can channel energy towards something positive and develop skills that they can use when they get out. This is especially important because upon reentry many have lost their benefits, cannot reunite with their families, and face housing bans that prevent reunification with their families. For longterm prisoners and prisoners incarcerated for life without parole, education can be a positive focus.
- Sentencing reform so that the punishment fits the crime. We have to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which prescribe sentences for fixed amounts of time, often for long periods that unfairly fit the crime at hand.
- An end to solitary confinement, an inhumane practice which has serious long-term psychological and physical effects.
- Access to therapeutic programming that recognizes the impact that an experience of past violence has on an individuals chances of ending up in prison, and allows prisoners to reflect on this so that rehabilitation is possible. This includes substance abuse treatment and access to comprehensive healthcare.
- Honoring the rights of incarcerated parents and their children. This includes ending the practice of shackling mothers as they give birth and recover from their birth, allowing mothers and children access to each other – either through a nursery system or visitation – and keeping children out of foster care if the mother is arrested.
One Billion Rising for Justice U.S. Prisons Writing Project
One Billion Rising for Justice wants to hear from prisoners – women, men and youth – about what justice would look like for them. We are collecting prisoners’ memories, rants, prayers and stories.
Some of the entries we receive will be posted in part or full on our website and/or featured in an eventual theatrical piece by V (formerly Eve Ensler), the playwright and activist and V-Day founder who did similar work with female prisoners at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in the 2003 documentary film What I Want My Words to Do to You and the 2006 production Any One of Us: Words from Prison, both of which can be produced by activists via V-Day. The theatrical piece will be developed under the auspices of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls that was founded by Ensler in 1998, and which is behind the One Billion Rising for Justice campaign.
Participants can choose to be anonymous or share their names.
Please note that only a few lines or a phrase from your entry may be used. In other cases, an entire entry may be used.
Interested individuals should share rants, prayers, statements, stories to us by mail or email.
Mail entries to:
One Billion Rising
U.S. Prisons Writing Project
P.O. Box 3358
Or email to: prisonsrising (at) onebillionrising
If you cannot download the release, feel free to handwrite the following language at the end of your entry, and then sign and date it.
We have compiled the following questions as a jumping off point. Feel free to answer any of them if they speak to you.
Learn more about the link between incarceration and violence.