On March 3rd the Saint Marys Community welcomed, on behalf of the Center for Women and Gender Equity, Porche Taylor and Courtney Morris. As previewed in a recent article the discussion is in honor of the 44 days event on campus, and a follow up with these women advocating for change in the criminal justice system.
By Ally Sullivan
Recently incarcerated individuals who reside at 111 Taylor Street, have been the victims of a mass COVID-19 outbreak that could have been prevented. As part of parole they were not allowed to wear masks. Courtney Morris, Organizer of No Justice Under Capitalism, expressed her concern and commitment to help these individuals. Morris has recently been actively demanding mass releases throughout prisons to decrease deaths from the COVID-19 outbreak. As a local advocate for abolishing the prison system, Morris is not alone in her efforts.
Porche Taylor, Founder of Prison from the Inside Out, and owner of her own reentry facilities expresses her disgust toward places like 111 Taylor Street. “It is a disgusting look at what transitioning has been in the past years because of privatization” Taylor said. The Taylor street institution is owned by the GEO group. As stated on their website, the GEO groups core reentry treatments includes training in behavioral treatment, substance abuse education and treatment as well as work readiness/ vocational skills. This is not the services that were provided to current resident Malik Washington.
Malik Washington was denied access to drug rehabilitation centers without regards to the high drug use that exists just outside the doors of the institution. Washington was sent to 111 Taylor street on a work release program, as a Journalist Washington went to work at a rally, and was told that it was not authorized. Inhumane treatment at 111 Taylor street seems to be another one of GEO groups core values.
As opposed to privatized reentry institutions, Taylor strives and succeeds at providing these second chance citizens with a home environment where they are treated as respectable human beings. Taylor believes in serving the incarcerated and recently incarcerated with compassion, empathy, and respect. “We have a lot of work to do, they cannot fight alone,” Taylor said.
Taylor and Morris are working to change the narrative, and educate people around common misconceptions about the prison system. The biggest one that Morris points out, is that they keep us safe, however crime and homicide rates have not gone down. These women advocate strongly that people do not need prison, but rather social services in their everyday lives. As Morris states, “When people have what they need, they don't commit crime.”
Thank you to these women for sharing their stories, and for bringing awareness and action to the increasing incarceration problem. The Saint Marys Community thanks you for taking time out of your day to educate and inspire all those who attended the event.
Victoria Vidales '21,