Formerly Incarcerated Women Hope To Raise Awareness Of The Plight Of Women In The Justice System
A group of women who served federal time for nonviolent crimes have come together to raise awareness about how mass incarceration impacts women and families.
The women – Jamila T. Davis Aisha Hall, Sunshine Smith-Williams and Brandi Davis – will release a documentary, a reality show and a book series about their experiences and the effect that it had on their families.
“I want people to look at the other side,” Brandi Davis, who got out last year after serving 10 years, told BOSSIP. “They look at you as a number. They look at our children like they’re statistics….I served my time, and now it’s about giving back. And it’s about raising awareness about mass incarceration and raising awareness about the children left behind.”
Their reality show “Fresh Out The Feds,” will chronicle their struggle to reintegrate both back into society and into their families. Backed by singer Lauryn Hill, the series will show viewers what it’s really like for women coming home from prison.
“The kids were our main priority,” Smith-Williams said, “and we wanted to show how it affected our children. My son still suffers from abandonment issues.”
Smith-Williams said she and Jamila T. Davis came up with the idea while serving out their sentences at a federal lockup in Connecticut. She said she and the other women want to show the human side of women behind bars and the families they leave behind.
“Let’s get to the meat and potatoes – that the judicial system is not right,” Smith-Williams told BOSSIP. “Let’s talk about ending mass incarceration. 2.1 million people are behind bars, suffering. Let’s raise awareness of not only the children, but who is serving the time and why they are serving so much time. It (the justice system) needs to be broken down and rebuilt.”
Brandi Davis, a close family friend of producer and reality star Stevie J who served time for drug conspiracy, will let viewers into her life through the docu-series “Left Behind,” following her release from a 12-and-a-half year sentence for bank fraud.
Hall is serving time for wire fraud, is set for release in June after serving nine years, while Jamila T. Davis, co-author of the series “Pink Panther Clique” is supposed to get out in April after a nine-year stint inside for bank fraud.
Women are the fastest growing population in the correctional system, and the imprisonment rate for black women is more than double the rate of their white counterparts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. In addition, some seven in ten female prisoners have children, which means more than 1.3 million kids in the country are without a mother.
Brandi Davis, who just co-authored a book with Jamila T. Davis, “Product of the Game,” about her life in and out of prison, said it was hell leaving her son to serve her time.
“I felt ashamed,” Brandi said. “I felt guilty…At the end of the visits, he would say, ‘When are you coming home?’”
She added: “When I first started my time, I battled a little depression. I’d left my baby. But through the grace of God, when you see how we interact, you would never know I’d been gone.”