From October 2-6, 2019 the CJI team was in Montgomery, Alabama, to launch the newest and first fund of its kind in CJI history, the FreeHer Circle. Focused on ending the mass criminalization and incarceration of women and girls, the CJI FreeHer Circle commenced at the third annual FreeHer National Conference, organized by Andrea James and the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.
Six hundred women and girls from around the country and from several different parts of the world convened in plenaries and workshops, sharing their experiences with the criminal legal system and what compelled their commitment to transform it to ensure that other women and girls would never endure the ordeals they endured.
One day of the conference was devoted to visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and The Legacy Museum, to remind us of the roots that gave rise to the mass criminalization and incarceration of black and brown bodies: the enslavement, racial terrorization and lynching, and segregation of the children, women and men kidnapped from Africa and their ancestors.
In the evenings, the CJI FreeHer Circle united the 10 activists, five donors and staff that make up the new fund, to start co-creating what Aleah, Executive Director, and Tina, Program Director, call, “a just sisterhood.” For the CJI FreeHer Circle believes that all women and girls have been falsely divided and pitted against one another, when truly, there was always and still is a shared goal; the liberation of all women and girls. At the center of this new journey is a commitment to truth-telling, integrity, power-sharing and lifting up one another. As the National Council’s slogan says, “Nothing about us, without us.”