Women have become the fastest growing segment of the prison population nationwide. While the U.S. has about 5% of the world’s women, it has about 33% of the incarcerated women. Health care is a serious problem in prison. Women enter prisons with serious health issues that are compounded by poor quality prison health care and services, as well as the gender-based impact of women’s incarceration experience itself.
The Correctional Association of New York has had a unique mandate to monitor prisons since 1846. Its Women in Prison Project brought an intersectional gender lens to its advocacy beginning in 1991. The organization works with the understanding that individuals directly affected by prison policies must be active participants and leaders in reform efforts. We examine policies affecting health care access, solitary confinement, sentencing of battered women, and shackling pregnant women.
By exploring our monitoring and advocacy work, we hope that lawyers, advocates, and researchers interested in women’s health will strengthen their understanding of the importance of reproductive justice for incarcerated women, the ways that the social, economic and political issues in women’s lives affect their health and health outcomes, and the broader advocacy efforts to bring about systemic change.
Gail T. Smith joined the Correctional Association of New York as Director of the Women in Prison Project on February 1, 2016. She previously led Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers, an organization that she founded to provide free legal aid, client education, and public advocacy for incarcerated mothers and their families. She worked with formerly incarcerated mothers to make Illinois the first state in the nation to ban the use of shackles on women during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. She drafted and advocated for many other bills to benefit incarcerated mothers and their children. The White House named Gail a Champion of Change in 2013. She received the Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Award, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Racial Justice Award, theChicago Tribune Tempo/Womanaward, and New York University’s Public Interest Law Foundation award. She earned her JD from New York University School of Law and her bachelor’s from Barat College of DePaul University.
Andrea B. Williams joined the CA in 2004. Andrea manages all aspects of ReConnect, the Women in Prison Project’s leadership training program for formerly incarcerated women. Prior to joining the CA, she was Public Policy Coordinator at the HIV Law Project where she managed the Center for Women’s Organizing, an advocacy training program for women living with HIV and AIDS. Andrea is a lawyer who has worked as a staff attorney at NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund and Bergen County Legal Services in New Jersey. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. Andrea received her J.D. from the Rutgers School of Law and her Bachelor’s in Political Science from Boston University.
Lorrayne Patterson shares a message of hope and renewal while also serving as a voice and advocate for women directly affected by incarceration. In her current position as a CASAC substance abuse counselor working with Methadone Maintenance Patients for a NYC hospital, she assists individuals who are mandated to substance abuse treatment.
Ms. Patterson became involved in women’s advocacy during her transition home from a New York State women’s correctional facility. An active member of the Coalition for Women Prisoners, she regularly engages with elected officials about reforming criminal justice polices as they affect women and their families. She is a member and past co-chair of the Coalition’s Conditions/Reentry Committee, and an active alumnae participant on the Women’s Prison Association’s Women’s Advocacy Project Alumnae Council. Ms. Patterson is a visible and strong spokesperson on issues of women and criminal justice. She has been a featured advocate at panels, public hearings and in the media on issues concerning the needs of currently and formerly incarcerated women, including NYU Wagner Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue, WBAI, New York Times, the Legislative Gazette, and a documentary film entitled Re-imagining the Future by the College Initiative. In 2005, she was awarded the Coalition for Women Prisoners’ Advocate for Justice Award.
Ms. Patterson is a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a major in Forensic Psychology. In 2004, she graduated from Phoenix House. She is an alumna of ReConnect, a leadership training program of the Women in Prison Project at the Correctional Association of New York, and the Women’s Advocacy Project, a program of the Women’s Prison Association.
This was excellent.
Good use of speakers and videos
Very informative and interesting subject matter. Thanks.
Heartbreaking and important
Best course I have taken!
Refreshing format, particularly hearing from formerly incarcerated women and the video clips.
It was a good balance of the law and the influence of trauma on female convicts. It wasn't overly sentimental, and I felt that the use of limited personal stories helped to give perspective to the impact of imprisonment on women without over-dramatizing it.
This program uses some video interviews and testimony of women who are survivors of prison and domestic violence. It puts a human face on the issues.
Loved the stories
This was the best presentation I've seen on lawline!
I thoroughly enjoyed this session, particularly the mix of presentation methodologies (news reports, experts, interviews)
Poignant and informative!
The addition of commentary/videos from women who have directly experienced/been affected by rules and regulations was very impactful.
Very powerful and moving.
This was one of the best CLE's I've ever heard, on a very important topic.
Excellent provocative presentation
I enjoyed the format, especially the inclusion of different voices and perspectives. The video clips were great. Substantive and informative.
Remarkable presentation! This was an exceptional offering from Lawline. I was extremely impressed with the faculty and certainly had my consciousness raised regarding this issue.
Very informative on many levels
Really Great Course.
Very important presentation!
This was outstanding, very enlightening.
Excellent course -- very interesting and informative
This was a great program. Thank you for offering this interesting topic!
OUTSTANDING Program! OUTSTANDING CLE. Thank You so much for this one. Much better than many of the videos in this bundle.
what an impactful and insightful course! best of the bundle
Very powerful lecture
Very beneficial and informative presentation.
A very strong program. One of the best I've watched.
This was very moving and has inspired me to do volunteer work with woman who have health issues in prison.
Outstanding presentation. Thank you very much.
Great course. I really enjoyed the documentary-style video clips.
The video was very informative about a subject that I believe is not discussed enough today. I believe everyone involved in criminal justice system should be aware of the information in this class.
Excellent and informative program.
Extremely well done and informative.
testimonials by former incarcerated women was very effective.
The best course I have ever taken.
EXCELLENT course. Eye-opening and incredibly informative!
Like the personal stories
Really informative in an area I was not familiar with at all.
Very well done and humanitarian presentation about issues that rarely warrant much attention from lawyers in private litigation or transactional work.
Very touching stories.
good format and presentation
A very interesting and compelling aspect of the law.
The video clips within the presentation, with women talking about their problems in the legal system, were especially powerful in getting across the realities of their situations.
very eye opening
such a moving, important presentation
extremely interesting and informative
Excellent program! Testimonials from DV survivors and impact of prison system sheds light on failure of laws to meet needs of women unjustly imprisoned and also highlights the work of those folks trying to right these wrongs. Great overview.
This is the best CLE I have heard. It was great
Very thorough. Nice presentation.
Excellent course. A disturbing look at women's justice and health issues. Highly recommended!
Good topic that needs more attention.
Eye opening information.
I loved this CLE! very informative and important.
This was a very moving presentation. It has encouraged me to get involved in advocating for women in prison.
Very interesting program that was informative and highlighted an area where attorneys can and should be more active.
This program was inspiring. I think it is important that we as a society begin/continue to understand the unique issues affecting incarcerated women.
This program was inspiring
very informative, I had no idea. my wife is an ob/gyn who does exams for healthright international for women applying for asylum. she will be interested in hearing about this. this may be something I may want to get involved in. keep up the good work
The videos were very impressive and helped with understanding on a deeper level.
Excellent presentation! I very much appreciated the personal stories. Those helped with my learning experience