by Tara Belcher
Equity across the board is the crucial component for creating positive change within Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women. Commissioners must take account of all women’s needs.
As it stands, new policies are implemented within the narrow scope of reducing overcrowding in the interest of public safety with the age-old tactic of fearmongering. Thus, violent offenders serving LWOP (Life Without Parole) are devoid of representation.
Non-violent repeat offenders are given preference in the prescription of programs, lower level security and custody reductions which grants them eligibility to exit their custody.
In my opinion, if the institutional heads would take the initiative to present a group of deserving LWOP servers who have spent 15 years of more and develop a team of psychologists, counselors, classification specialists etc. to actively engage in measuring the behavior amongst this population to determine likely candidates for sentence commutations and re-entry programs, then there would be more equitable conditions here at JTP.
If given the chance, I for one would take the lead in proving naysayers wrong who cling to the notion that convicted murderers with LWOP are threats to communities.
Provisions are now being made for LWOPs to be housed in JTP’s Annex to provide a basically free labor force for ACI (Alabama Correctional Industries). This serves only the needs of ADOC (Alabama Department of Corrections).
These women don’t make minimum wage. The pennies earned are recycled back into ADOC’s books. If given the opportunity to work in society in the work release programs, we could earn enough to support our children and families and offset the burdens of our supporters.
It’s time to think outside the box. Other states are tackling problems to help women offenders serving LWOP. Their programs are effective.
California’s governor commuted the sentences of six women serving LWOP. Michigan’s governor initiated a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Treatment Team. Here at JTP, I want to see inclusiveness. Don’t leave us out the loop.
This was written in support of fellow prisoner Mary Williams for her participation in the Beyond Violence class facilitated by Honorable Mr. Rahim.
Send our sister some love and light: Tara Belcher, 211925, Tutwiler CF F1-21A, 8966 US Hwy 231, Wetumpka AL 36092.