Wesleyan College in Prison Program

Wesleyan University has developed a program that will allow male prisoners in a Connecticut penitentiary to gain college credit.  The college-in-prison program is accredited, allowing faculty and students from the college to teach for-credit courses to inmates.  Wesleyan students are also running a program at a local women’s prison.  However, this program is not yet accredited, and consists of workshops rather than college classes.  The hope is that the accredited program will be expanded to the women’s prison in the future. Wesleyan faculty and students hope that this will provide an example to other schools to follow suit.

What a really great program! In Alabama, it is estimated that 1/2 of female prisoners do not have a GED, most averaging around a 10th grade education.  Though there are programs in place that allow inmates to receive their GED, there are no programs that allow any further scholarly education.  

Allowing inmates to take accredited college courses has the potential to really raise their level of efficacy.  Once these prisoners are released, they have the tools to do much more than they could have without further education.  It could also give a sense of empowerment, as they have the opportunity to study topics, readings, etc. that they would not have had access to otherwise.  

One of AWRN’s goals is to help women form reentry plans that will enable them to immerse themselves in the community, in hopes that they will not fall into the same habits that got them arrested in the first place.  Programs like these would definitely give inmates a great opportunity to get involved in the betterment of the community and themselves. 

To read this entire article, click here.


Don’t Forget Sept. 30 @ Bama Theatre


Join the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project for a fundraiser screening of The Dhamma Brothers

Screening sponsored by the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Alabama.

September 30th, 2009

6:00 Happy Hour/Meet and Greet

7:00 Screening

8:30 Panel Discussion

Bama Theatre 600 Greensboro Avenue Tuscaloosa, AL

Suggested donations: $8 for students, $12 all others


Perversion of Justice

News coverage of the U.S. war on drugs reaches us all every day. Whether it’s your local paper’s run-down of police arrests, a photo of drugs from a recent raid, or how the nation’s prisons are overflowing (not reported enough), the drug war has become a regular feature in papers and t.v. news.

In spite of the war’s frequent appearance, one rarely has the opportunity to hear the stories of the thousands of women who are incarcerated as a result of the ever-widening net of the drug war.

In Perversion of Justice, Melissa Mummert brings viewers the opportunity to hear the story of Hamedah Hasan, a woman who, convicted of drug charges for the first time, received a life sentence.

Like so many women in prison in Alabama and elsewhere in the U.S., her story begins with her attempt to escape a violent relationship and now continues in a life behind bars, separated from her three children.

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Over 1300 Days of Freedom

Over 1300 days of freedom were gained today for a woman granted parole by Alabama’s Parole Board. AWRN is happy to have been a part of her reentry plan development and parole hearing advocacy. All the best to her and her family as she moves forward toward achieving her goals.  She is an incredible, strong woman who is ready to build on her progress and we are proud to have the opportunity to be a part of her life. 

So far this month, AWRN’s Parole Advocacy Project has gained a total of more than 3,000 days of freedom for four imprisoned women in Alabama.

AWRN would also like to express its gratitude to Aid to Inmate Mothers with whom we partnered on advocacy plans for three women.

If you would like to find out more about becoming involved in AWRN’s Parole Advocacy Project, please contact us at crodenjones@awrn.org.

Alabama No. 6 in Rate of Women Murdered by Men

Louisiana #1 in Rate of Women Murdered by Men

Huffington Post

Josh Sugarmann

Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington, DC

September 22, 2009

Full article here or below:

Louisiana, with a rate of 2.53 per 100,000, ranks first in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men according to a new report issued today by my organization, the Violence Policy Center (VPC). “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2007 Homicide Data” details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender and uses the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report. The report is released each year to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Ranked behind Louisiana were: Alaska at number, two with a rate of 2.44 per 100,000; Wyoming at number three, with a rate of 2.33 per 100,000; Arkansas at number four with a rate of 2.29 per 100,000; Nevada at number five, with a rate of 2.23 per 100,000; Alabama at number six with a rate of 2.22 per 100,000; New Mexico at number seven with a rate of 2.21 per 100,000; South Carolina at number eight with a rate of 2.04 per 100,000; Oklahoma at number nine with a rate of 2.03 per 100,000; and, Arizona at number 10 with a rate of 1.92 per 100,000. Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in single victim/single offender instances was 1.30 per 100,000.

Nationwide, 1,865 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2007. Where weapon use could be determined, firearms were the most common weapon used by males to murder females (847 of 1,657 homicides or 51 percent). Of these, 76 percent (640 of 847) were committed with handguns.

In cases where the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 91 percent of female victims (1,587 out of 1,743) were murdered by someone they knew. Of these, 62 percent (990 out of 1,587) were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers. More than 10 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers. In 88 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, the homicides were not related to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery.

As the study notes in its conclusion, “The picture that emerges from When Men Murder Women is that women face the greatest threat from someone they know, most often a spouse or intimate acquaintance, who is armed with a gun. For women in America, guns are not used to save lives, but to take them.”


To find out more about what you can do to get help for yourself, or for women you know experiencing domestic violence, please visit the website of AWRN member, The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence.


Alabama prison ruling backs public right to know

Montgomery Advertiser

September 22, 2009

The Alabama Supreme Court struck a blow for the public’s right to know how its business is being conducted when it ordered state corrections officials last week to make public their internal reports on inmate assaults at a state prison, as well as its findings in the death of an inmate.

Farron Barksdale, who was convicted of killing two Athens police officers, was found comatose in his cell at Kilby Correctional Facility just a few days after arriving there in 2007, and later died. His mother’s attorneys have been seeking documents from the internal probe of his death.

The court ruled 5-0 that Alabama’s Open Records Act “represents a long history of openness” and should be construed in favor of the public.

But the Supreme Court ruling, like an earlier lower court ruling, said the prison commissioner could black out sensitive information if it might subject a person to harm or jeopardize a pending investigation.

That strikes a fair balance between the public’s right to know and the ability of public officials to do their jobs.

Frankly, it is difficult to understand just why state corrections officials — with the backing of Alabama Attorney General Troy King — fought so hard to prevent the release of these additional documents, especially after Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eugene Reese included language in his earlier ruling allowing the Corrections department to black out certain sensitive information.

Prison Commissioner Richard Allen argued his case for continued secrecy in an Alabama Voices guest column in the Montgomery Advertiser in December. (See below to access the guest column.) But we did not find his arguments particularly persuasive, and apparently neither does the state Supreme Court.

Allen argued that the Corrections Department had provided extensive records to the Barksdale family, which has filed a federal civil lawsuit over the incident.

But the Barksdale case aside, it is important that the taxpaying citizens of Alabama have as much access as possible to the records showing how their business is conducted. Unless there is a specific reason otherwise, such as ongoing criminal investigations, records should be open to the public. Otherwise, the citizenry cannot reasonably judge how well public officials are performing their jobs.

We applaud the Supreme Court ruling, and urge public officials at all levels of government in Alabama to keep it in mind when they are asked for access to public records. Public officials should look for ways to allow access, instead of looking for ways to deny it. And they always should be reluctant to expend public funds to defend secrecy in court.

AWRN Book/Film Club: Suggestions for Next Title

AWRN BookFilm Club 001We had our first AWRN Book/Film Club meeting on September 12th.  We discussed Vikki Law’s Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women , an amazing collection of women’s resistance and empowerment in prison.  Many thanks to Law for her invaluable work and also to the many women who shared their stories of collaboration, resistance, and endurance in prison.

We are now looking over titles for our next club meeting.  Please leave suggestions here.  All are welcome!