In 2017, a coalition formed to aid in the passage of HB2016, regarding doula and midwifery access in Washington State jails and prisons to provide services for incarcerated pregnant people. The passage of this bill, which went into effect in June 2018, has created a surge of interest and organizing around perinatal health programming in an incarcerated context. Birth Beyond Bars came into realization through the organizing efforts surrounding this legislative success, years of research and networking, collaborations with reproductive and social justice organizations in the King county area, consultation with over a dozen prison doula programs both nationally and internationally, experience providing direct services in a prison setting, and the counsel and advice of incarcerated parents and families impacted by incarceration.
Our leadership model, like our intended programming, is led by communities of color and those impacted by intergenerational incarceration. By centering the maternal-child health system, providing services to keep the integrity of this imperative bond intact and that also address the underlying causes of incarceration, Birth Beyond Bars will not only interrupt the intergenerational trauma associated with mass incarceration starting in the womb, but we will also build strength in community to organize for equity around the political root causes of this public health crisis. Mass incarceration is not a moral failing, it is an intentional act of systemic violence.
WHO WE ARE
We are a grassroots initiative dedicated to bringing community-based and culturally competent care to families impacted by mass incarceration. We are doulas, health care professionals, lawyers, parents, children, advocates, and people with family histories of incarceration, united in our commitment to building healthy future generations. By providing access to interventions for families coping with incarceration and associated risk factors we are reframing mass incarceration from a moral failing of individuals to a public health issue that impacts communities.
To provide perinatal health services for families impacted by incarceration.
We envision a world where communities are resilient, supported, and self-reliant. Where justice and accountability are held within community support systems so that there is no longer a need for a system of mass incarceration.
Drawing from a Transformative Justice Framework we are:
Acknowledging the reality of state harm.
Looking for alternative ways to address/interrupt harm, which do not rely on the state.
Relying on organic, creative strategies that are community created and sustained.
Transforming the root causes of violence, not only on the individual experience.