315 Linwood Street, Brooklyn, NY 11208 sharon@wcja.org

Mission and History

Our mission is to:

  1. Decarcerate by closing facilities, fighting for the release of incarcerated women, trans, and gender-expansive populations, and advocating for alternative to incarceration and detention programs.
  2. Advocate for the reinvestment of resources into communities impacted by incarceration.
  3. Organize and strategize in order to change the laws, policies, facilities, and procedures that harm women, girls, transgender and gender-expansive people.

Embedded in the fabric of WCJA’s mission is the understanding that women closest to the problem are closest to the solution. We work to disrupt and dismantle the unjust, racially charged systems that target black and brown communities and perpetuate trauma, violence, and harm to women, trans, and gender-expansive populations. To further the fight, WCJA continuously advocates for racial and budget justice to reduce the number of incarcerations of these communities, while furthering the long-term stability of these vulnerable female and gender-expansive populations.

History

WCJA was founded in 2018 by a diverse group of justice-impacted women who share a personal and professional mission to create the current and next generation of community leaders, activists, storytellers, and the authors of their own future. WCJA’s work was born directly from the realization that there was a lack of women representation in the CloseRikers campaign. As originating co-leaders of that movement, WCJA took the lead on gathering the stories of twenty women and girls who were detained in the Rose M. Singer Facility on Rikers Island. A
2018 grant from The New York Women’s Foundation allowed for the HERSTORIES project to be created. This empowered WCJA to further grow its platform and shed light on the horrific experiences, trauma, and impact incarceration on Rikers Island has on women, girls, transwomen, and their children. Following the release of HERSTORIES, WCJA met with city elected officials and held four groundbreaking “call to action” community meetings to reverse the Mayor’s decision to establish a wing for women in each of the four borough facilities. We asked for one facility and the Mayor complied-we succeeded!

With the outbreak of COVID-19, we have been focusing on the needs and safety of incarcerated women, as well as people returning back to their communities in the midst of a global pandemic. This crisis led to the creation of the Justice 4 Women Task Force, a collective of advocates and directly impacted women responding to the needs of these vulnerable populations.