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.

Our vision:

Our vision is to disrupt and dismantle the unjust, racially charged systems that target the black and brown communities and perpetuate trauma, violence, and harm to women, trans, and gender-expansive populations. To further the fight, we continuously advocate for racial, budget, and gender justice in reducing the number of incarcerations of these communities. We aim to further the long-term stability of these vulnerable female and gender-expansive populations currently and historically involved in the criminal injustice system; and supporting broader criminal injustice reform.

Our goals:

  • WCJA seeks to repair and/or preserve existing relationships between women, children, their families, and their community by ensuring that services needed for long term stability are available.
  • Women and gender expansive populations will have greater opportunities to access alternatives to detention/incarceration.
  • Services will continue to be available for those who are remanded, as well as post-discharge within their community.
  • All city officers are trained in the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) law and practice trauma informed and responsive care.
  • Court officials will embrace and enact the DVSJA law throughout every courtroom and women are assessed before arrest. They are provided with options of healing and support versus the existing punitive measures and punishment.

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.