Women and Barriers After Incarceration

"When you talk about Black women that have been incarcerated, our system doesn't even know what to do."—Carmella Glenn

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PODCAST

Episode 8 | April 28, 2021 | Length: 37:07

Black women make up just 6 percent of Wisconsin’s population but 21 percent of women in the state correctional system. Angela Fitzgerald talks with Carmella Glenn, coordinator of JustDane’s “Just Bakery.” They discuss the roadblocks and solutions for Black women leaving incarceration and returning home.

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Carmella Glenn

Carmella Glenn

Carmella Glenn is the Program Coordinator for the Just Bakery program, an initiative of JustDane in Madison, Wis. She holds degrees in both criminal justice and culinary arts. Just Bakery is a 12-week educational and vocational training program specifically designed to prepare men and women returning to the community after incarceration to work in commercial bakeries. The program works with individuals who are experiencing significant barriers to employment (homelessness, criminal conviction history, lack of education, and/or a lack of work history or skills) and who have an interest in the culinary arts.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Speaker: The following program is a PBS Wisconsin original production.

Angela Fitzgerald: Hi, I’m Angela Fitzgerald and this is Why Race Matters. When we talk about Black incarceration in Wisconsin, we generally talk about issues facing Black men. It’s an important topic and Wisconsin has one of the highest incarceration rates for Black men in the entire country. But what about Black women who are incarcerated? What issues do they face after prison? On this episode of Why Race Matters, we’ll talk to Carmella Glenn, director of Just Bakery in Dane County. We’ll discuss breaking employment barriers for women returning from incarceration, stereotypes they face within the community, and what Just Bakery is doing to help them adjust. So join me as we discuss why race matters when we talk about Black female incarceration.

Angela Fitzgerald: So thank you for joining us today, Carmella.

Carmella Glenn: Thanks for having me.

Angela Fitzgerald: Absolutely. Can you tell us your story and how it’s gotten you to the place where you are and the work that you do?

Carmella Glenn: Okay. That’s a long story. I’ll make it short. With lots of twists and turns. So I am from the area. I-

Angela Fitzgerald: From Madison?

Carmella Glenn: First few years I was raised in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

Angela Fitzgerald: I can tell by the way that you pronounce that for sure.

Carmella Glenn: Yeah, you have to say it that way. And I was raised by my mother who is white and a stepfather who is white. Grew up there, came to Madison. My parents really struggled around drug addiction and manufacturing and selling drugs. And so I grew up in that environment, lots of alcohol and drugs, lots of substance use, and a lot of domestic violence. My stepfather was really violent.

And so my story starts with me trying to find my way of who I was. When I was about 21, my mom was sentenced to 20 years in prison and my father was sentenced to five years in federal prison. My mom was state. And so when my mom came home from prison, so here’s where my journey begins around criminal justice. When my mom came home from prison, she decided that she needed to go back in and work inside of the prison system. And so she started working for Asha Family Services. They’re out of Milwaukee, Antonia Vann, who is one of my mentors around domestic violence. And so I started doing that work going into the women’s prisons and it was called Sister Circle. We had a satellite station up here on Allied Drive, supporting women over there and I fell in love with the work inside.

 

However, I felt like I didn’t have all the pieces. And so I started looking around for more employment and ended up working for now JustDane, then Madison-area Urban Ministry, we changed our name in June, as their Windows to Work coordinator working inside the men’s prison. And my husband was then incarcerated about six weeks after our now 14 year old son was on a revocation of a crime from 1991. Still in 2006, 1991. That was our system. And when it came time for him to come home, there were all these loopholes and I really just got pissed off. And so I went and got my criminal justice degree and said, “Now the system’s going to have to work with me.”

Carmella Glenn: I started doing the Windows to Work, but then realized, again, working inside the system wasn’t going to allow me to move fast enough. It’s like turning a cruise ship.

Angela Fitzgerald: Right, because the system was designed to work the way that it is.

Carmella Glenn: Designed to keep poor and brown people down and it’s working fantastically. And so I went to go work on my master’s in criminal justice and I left. And then JustDane called me back and said, “We have started a program called Just Bakery,” which is both of my loves. Literally who gets to work in both of their loves? So it’s a employment training program for those who struggle with barriers to employment. And I’ve been there for over six years and I am absolutely in love with it.

Angela Fitzgerald: Wow. So you said so many things. I wanted to pause and ask questions. I’m like, “I’m going to wait until after you finish your story.” So to bring it back, when you mentioned your experience within the criminal justice system and then family members experiences, I guess I wanted to know if you could uplift things that people may not know, about what it’s like, because you even distinguished federal versus state versus jail. Right? For a lot of us people may watch Law & Order, or what’s the show? Orange Is the New Black. There’s an idea of what it is, but what is it actually from your experience and those of your family members?

Carmella Glenn: It is a system that is used to house people rather than help people. It is a system that is putting bodies behind bars and doing nothing for them while they’re in there.

Angela Fitzgerald: So this idea of… Not rehabilitation, trying to think of the word the criminal justice system uses to describe-

Carmella Glenn: Rehabilitation.

Angela Fitzgerald: It’s rehabilitation that-

Carmella Glenn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Angela Fitzgerald: Okay. So this idea that you’re going in to come out a new person that can possibly contribute to society, you’re like, “Absolutely not.”

Carmella Glenn: Absolutely not. Most of the reason is most of the people that go to prison go in there for non-violent offenses and are coming back and there isn’t treatment inside of there at the levels. It’s used for housing because we don’t have enough mental health providers in the community, so they house people. There’s not enough around addiction and substance use disorder period inside of there.

And if they do get it and if you are one of the lucky that do get to get in that, let’s say you get a 10 year sentence, you sit nine and a half years and your last six months, let’s shove a whole bunch of programming in you. And then say, “Play nice outside.” And once you walk out of the gates, the supports end. Even if you’re on probation or parole, that system is still… Now, I don’t want to over-say that there isn’t some good people that are trying to fight within the system around probation and parole or in corrections, but that’s… One of the people who I respect most is M. Adams and she’s from Freedom Inc, and she said, “When we talk about the bad apples, we need to stop talking about the bad apples and talk about the bag.” So even the good people who are living in the acid-soaked bag can’t really move.

Angela Fitzgerald: Wow. And that explains probably why the recidivism rate is what it is because I’m going in, I’m not getting help, not getting services or maybe a little something. And then I’m being sent back out with now this label attached to me.

Carmella Glenn: And more trauma being inside of a cell around people who aren’t getting any help themselves. So we’re creating little pockets of trauma and then saying, “I consider you rehabilitated,” and they like to use that. But what about those that haven’t been habilitated in the first place? Have significant trauma and go inside of this trauma box and then come out. And for women, you are addressing most women that go in are for nonviolent offenses, but have suffered at a two to three times higher rate than their counterparts, significant trauma, and go inside of the box and then children and all of that.

Angela Fitzgerald: Wow. So there are pre-existing issues that I’m sure were contributing in some way to incarceration. Not being addressed, there’s added trauma through the incarceration experience. You’re leaving now with untreated trauma, compounded trauma on top of having this label that limits your ability to access certain things and just left to figure it out.

Carmella Glenn: Yes. And said, “Go play nice and you’re free.” And the services that… This state has tried. I remember when I started with Windows to Work, there was this movement of outside entities that we wanted to be like a Minneapolis that was definitely more progressive than us, but it dies every time.

Angela Fitzgerald: Why do you think that is?

Carmella Glenn: I think it’s a United States problem, but in Wisconsin specifically, I think it is a not willing to look in our own backyard problem. We believe that those over there are the ones with the problems and until it directly affects us, they’re willing to just look the other way. And we live in a place that considers itself progressive. And I don’t know, that’s not my experience as a person of color and to live in that and have someone tell me I’m crazy because my experience is so different than yours makes you feel a little prickly sometimes.

Angela Fitzgerald: I mean, that’s one of the talking points that’s come up even in other conversations, this idea that Wisconsin and even Madison specifically getting labeled as, “Oh, one of the best cities to live in.” And it’s like, “For who?” This idea that there’s these different realities for people based on what they look like. And we don’t talk about that or that’s not uplifting. It’s like, “Hey guys, that liberalness we talked about? How are we applying that over here?”

Carmella Glenn: How are we applying that over here?

Angela Fitzgerald: But it sounds like you’re saying it is an issue where that is separated from the state as a whole, it’s not something that the state needs to address. It’s those people that need to get it together.

Carmella Glenn: Absolutely. If you took out Dane County and Milwaukee County and a sprinkle of up in the northern state, I mean, we’d be a white state. That’s the truth. And so until the people who are not of color, white people, decide that the change is going to happen and are going to step up and make change and identify it, and not just when things go wrong of how they’re all willing to listen. I sit in those meetings. I work with those people and the pressure of wanting people to play nice and do it their way is real.

Angela Fitzgerald: Because you’re challenging people’s idea of what it means to feel safe. And so safety that’s put out there is the justifier for why we need to do certain things. But not understanding that may be creating other issues that are then completely counteracting. What you’re saying is going to make you safe. So I guess I’m even wondering what would it take for those who are not personally affected to recognize that these issues are their issues?

Carmella Glenn: So one of the things I’ve actually been working on… A lot of the people I find jobs for in my program is through my partnership. I worked a lot with Short Stack Eatery and the owners, Alex and Sinead. And so Alex and I have been working on this curriculum for employers around a just community and what it looks like, and it’s deep in its layers, in its beginnings, in its middles, in its ends.

But if we really want to be who we say we are, we’ve got to unpack a lot of things. Down to hiring practices, down to supporting people once you do hire them, down to an agency. The top of the agency, the CEO and executive director, looking like the community to… I mean, one of the funny things is, I mean, if you look at the population in Madison specifically, or let’s take Milwaukee, those in charge don’t look like the people who are struggling. And until they’re really ready to unpack those things and start saying, “I have privilege and bias all wrapped up in one. I have belief system that the little crumbs I hand over are enough for change.” We’ve got to make change, drastic big changes have to happen. And that makes people uncomfortable because at the end of the day, money talks.

Angela Fitzgerald: That is so true. And we do live in our little comfort level bubbles. And to suggest that, yes, I acknowledge that may be helpful to some, but what’s that going to mean for me? I think it does create these barriers to accepting things that could lend to a larger level change.

Carmella Glenn: Yeah. And then having to show up as women of color. When you show up of being passionate and wanting change and knowing how it needs to be done, but you got to play nice.

Angela Fitzgerald: And that’s another level to it. How do you move then within the system to bring about change? We know the system is not quite ready or maybe always willing. So you’re right. Having to maybe lower your tone or not come across as too emotional or assertive because of what that could mean to challenge other people.

Carmella Glenn: We’ve seen that happen with women for years. And then you take the layer under that and you got Black women and other women of color under that. So the layers of unpacking. I really only believe that it happens through undoing. We have to get people to be able to say and have conversations again. I think that the ball was dropped with our generation before of saying, “Oh, we’ve made it and we’re here and we’re at the promised land.

Angela Fitzgerald: Right we have success.

Carmella Glenn: And we stopped having the conversations. No politics at the dinner table, nothing about racism, nothing about religion. No, those are the conversations, exact conversations we need to be having all of the time. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other and it doesn’t mean we don’t like each other, but you have to talk about them.

Angela Fitzgerald: Absolutely. Because if not, it’s not going away.

Carmella Glenn: It’s not going away. Matter of fact, it’s getting worse, but it’s just in those dark little corners over there.

Angela Fitzgerald: The thing is those corners are going to grow.

Carmella Glenn: They do. And then what happens?

Angela Fitzgerald: Right. So, wow. Okay-

Carmella Glenn: The voice of the unheard.

Angela Fitzgerald: Exactly. Okay, so I’m trying to connect this back to your work with Just Bakery, which is now focusing on the reentry population.

Carmella Glenn: Yes. So kind of a little bit of a journey. So when I first took over Just Bakery, we knew we wanted to work around employment. And so we started there around finding people jobs, training them minimally and finding employment. But I quickly, as someone who has suffered significant trauma, realized that there’s more to the picture. There’s more to than finding a job for someone. Because I can check a box. I have so many grants and reports I fill out and I can mark success down so easily by putting them through Just Bakery. But there were so many pieces that needed to be added. And so am I successful if I get a woman a job on the west side of Madison? She doesn’t have a driver’s license. She has to see her probation and parole officer regularly. She doesn’t have an automobile.

She has to be at work at 8:30 in the morning, but she has to get her kids to school and she has to take the bus. Yeah, I get to mark a box that says successful.

Angela Fitzgerald: Because she’s employed.

Carmella Glenn: Because she’s employed. Did I just set her up for failure though? And so I’ve really taken the program and dug into every tiny little aspect of when someone comes in, I want to know everything about them. I want to know who you want to be, who you were, how’d you get there, what happened? And we do that with a really trauma informed model. Everybody that comes in it’s a 12 week program. It’s free for everybody. It costs us about $3,500 a student to put a student through. And the only thing you have to have is a barrier to employment. That can be formerly incarcerated, that can be mental health disorders, substance use disorder, lack of education. And I call it an 90 day interruption of your life. Everything you thought you thought about yourself or what the world told you, just give us 90 days to show you that who you are and where you can go.

Angela Fitzgerald: So what is that like for the women that you’re having this initial conversation with?

Carmella Glenn: Emotional.

Angela Fitzgerald: I can imagine.

Carmella Glenn: It is emotional. Lots of tears. I love doing the initial interviews with all of them. My favorite question is when I first started sitting down with them and I say, “Could you close your eyes for me? And then tell me, who do you want to be when you grow up?” And I’ve had people tell me I really wanted to be an astronaut, but I can’t because of now what I’ve done. And I’m like, “Who says you can’t?” And I have shown people how you back that up. So Just Bakery, when you graduate, you can graduate with up to 12 college credits. It was my biggest feat that I had to do.

Angela Fitzgerald: That is excellent.

Carmella Glenn: Yes.

Angela Fitzgerald: I love that.

Carmella Glenn: I graduated from Madison College culinary school and my chef and I worked for two years to find curriculum that could be accredited that would have transfer credits. And so I can literally walk someone through how you can get into culinary school and transfer those credits on to a bachelor’s and then go to a master’s. And who knows, one day you might be an astronaut.

Angela Fitzgerald: Exactly.

Carmella Glenn: And so allowing people through long and short-term goal making to see what they’re capable of and what they can have.

Angela Fitzgerald: And it’s creating… Just giving people the freedom to dream again, because especially if you’re thinking about coming out of an incarcerated state. Absolutely the idea that I could be anything, probably not something that you’re hearing anymore. But you’re like, “Oh wait, wait, wait. You can.”

Carmella Glenn: You can. I can walk you through on how when that system can seem really small to you and you can live your life and all of a sudden Tuesday at 3:00 when you’re supposed to go see your probation officer comes up and you’re like, “Oh my goodness, I almost forgot.” That’s what your life can be. And you can live that life and you can have that life and I can show you how to do that.

And so we’re a peer model program. So I’m a certified peer specialist and a trainer. So, I train people all over the state of Wisconsin on how to be and a peer specialist is someone who identifies as someone with mental health or substance use disorder. And it’s literally walking the walk with people. So they all get a peer specialist to be able to walk with them. And in our agency being specific around re-entry, all of them have been formerly incarcerated, all of our peers. And so to have someone walk with you who you can see model a behavior of where you could be, but says, “I’ve sat right there right with you.”

Angela Fitzgerald: Right, who can relate because it’s different when you have someone who has never had your experiences telling you, “Oh yes, you can do X, Y, or Z.” And you’re thinking, “You have no clue.”

Carmella Glenn: You have no clue.

Angela Fitzgerald: Rolling your eyes. Exactly. Thank you for that facial expression.

Carmella Glenn: You have no clue. Yes.

Angela Fitzgerald: But it’s different when it’s a peer modeling, absolutely.

Carmella Glenn: When it’s peer model. So we really dig into taxes. People incarcerated, when’s the last time you filed your taxes? You can’t get a school loan or any of that if you haven’t. Driver’s license. What’s your credit report? They go stagnant, just moving it around. And if you’ve been incarcerated for a long period of time, there’s stuff that should be gone. People who want their money aren’t going to be real quick to take it off. And that system in itself doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to. And so knowing all of those things for them.

We teach in a trauma-informed way that has tons of fidgets and weighted blankets and getting up and walking around and taking a break. I think school’s boring. I have a hard time with even my 14 year old with the system of schooling. I think that I’ve watched him watch Fortnite for 12 hours and not even go to the bathroom.

Angela Fitzgerald: That’s engaging to him.

Carmella Glenn: That’s engaging. Our school system needs to learn how to teach from that way. And so we have done that at Just Bakery. It’s hands-on. There isn’t a course that we teach that isn’t taught in traditional school. So our courses are nutrition and we teach that literally by them learning and they put on a presentation in some form of around fats or cholesterol or religious diets. All different kinds, hospitality, restaurant management, cost control, and scariest one, math. Everybody’s afraid of math, but when you’re doing baking, it’s really cool because I get to teach you math and show you why it makes sense.

Angela Fitzgerald: An application because I’m not just learning-

Carmella Glenn: Application.

Angela Fitzgerald: …calculus that I’ll never use again.

Carmella Glenn: That you’ll never use again.

Angela Fitzgerald: This is something I will use.

Carmella Glenn: Yeah. And so all of the program is designed through teaching that people can understand. They literally, with National Restaurant ServSafe certificate, literally set up a station on if they were going to have a food cart. And so we really want to make sure that they’re safe. And that’s what it became. It’s this safe place. I am a stickler and I’d like to say I’m softer than what I am, but I have high expectations of all of my students that come in there. If it’s not working for now, I will ask students to leave, but you can come back four, five, six times, two, three. I’ve had a student who it took her four times to graduate because she struggled with substance use disorder. And every time she fell off recovery, I had to let her go. One, because the other students. But two, because I don’t want her to ever believe that that’s all I think she’s got.

Carmella Glenn: But every time she got sober, we were the first place she came to. Every time she started a recovery journey. And so it became a place that over the years now, former students come by with babies and it’s community. It’s safe. My agency JustDane, so we share two separate campuses, and even everyone when they’re at JustDane and they come to Just Bakery because they’re like, “I just want to hang out here all the time.” I really wanted to carry it. And so the other piece of Just Bakery is that it became a business. So when you’re teaching commercial baking, and that’s what we’re teaching, our ovens, all of us could go hang out in our oven. It’s huge. And so we can bake 800 cookies off at one time.

Angela Fitzgerald: They’re learning the business side of the baking industry.

Carmella Glenn: The business side. So they learn the business side of it. The front of the house, part of it. And so I really wanted to create a just workplace also. And so all of my employees are all former students. When things happen with them, so probation or parole, substance use, mental health, my agency, everybody, even part-time staff gets paid time off. We start at a $15 minimum wage for our agency. The last thing I think of is firing someone when they’re struggling. I just want to know what I can do to walk along with them as they get through it. We’ve created it to be everything we’d like to see in the world in a very small, safe place.

Angela Fitzgerald: So I can understand why people would want to stay because where else might that be also modeled? So that place where it feels so safe and trusting. Wow. So I guess in terms of folks going through the program and coming out on the other side, what are you seeing and how can we even use what you all have figured out, it looks like, to move the needle around, the issue of racial disparities in the criminal justice system within our state?

Carmella Glenn: I’m seeing high numbers of people struggling around substance use and mental health. I think it’s the highest. I’m seeing women who have been imprisoned, who have been through sex trafficked, but they’re being treated like a criminal. We do twice a year a trauma specific cohort that digs in even deeper than that. And we work with Project RESPECT, and it’s all women who have been sex trafficked and in incarceration, and we’re going to court dates and they’re facing their abusers. And so I just see so much pain of people who feel like they need to be heard. They need to have someone just ask them. I’m so serious. Some of the first times I asked someone what happened and you watch people look at you like, “Wait, nobody’s ever asked me that.” Not, what did you do? What happened?

And that’s trauma-informed and I’m just seeing so much hurt. And then on the other side, I’m seeing growth and people going on to college now, finding careers. Those are successes, but there’s also success… I’m also seeing people who maybe it takes two times to go through Just Bakery, but then we find them employment. And for the next year we’re still working with them and their successes is that they haven’t went back to prison or they haven’t drank. Maybe it’s not their lifelong job. Maybe it’s not their career, but we created a space for them that they know that they can come back to, that you have people in your corner and really safe for the first times maybe in their lives.

Angela Fitzgerald: And I think that’s safety part, having a space that feels safe is probably even more crucial, thinking about our community and for thinking about women of color, Black women who are incarcerated, because those spaces don’t really exist period-

Carmella Glenn: Exist period.

Angela Fitzgerald: … for the non incarcerated community. For those of us who have never been in any sort of jail or prison. Where does that exist? So for this subset of the community that has even more needs, that’s even more crucial. So how can other owners of spaces be mindful of, is this space safe for a community that maybe doesn’t look like me? But also considerate of the experiences of those who’ve had incarceration, such that this is aiding in their re-entry back into our community.

Carmella Glenn: I think you have to start with looking at your policies and procedures. So if we’re talking about in an organization, have you set it up to be able to be equitable and equitable to pay, equitable to time off. If you’re dealing with women of color, there’s other issues, maybe childcare. Flexibility with scheduling, understanding the cultural needs of her and really taking your agency to a place that says, “I might not even get it, but I’m going to hear you maybe for the first time.” And so in work environments, it literally has to be listening and then believing what they’re telling you. Believing that I’m struggling, believing that this is a different environment. I’m noticing maybe microaggressions. I’m noticing that I’m not treated as equally. I’m noticing that when I speak up, I am thought of as being aggressive and the angry Black syndrome.

And so believing that people are struggling and having a hard time within the workplace and then undoing that. One of the things, like I said when I was working with Short Stack, one of the things that they had to do is say, “Here’s who…” When they decided they wanted to start working with my students, how did they explain to the white coworker that the Black coworker had to leave early because they have to go to the probation officers? How do they explain that, that she’s going to pick up the slack there? And so what they decided to do, which is what really has to be done is before you even get hired, here’s who we are as an organization. And here’s what we’re going to do and here’s how we’re going to support people. You might not want a job here if that’s not what you can handle.

Angela Fitzgerald: I love that. So the culture then is such that those who are here, this is what we’re about.

Carmella Glenn: This is who we are.

Angela Fitzgerald: Wow. So it doesn’t even become then an issue.

Carmella Glenn: Then it doesn’t become an issue.

Angela Fitzgerald: I’d love that because that’s such the opposite of this idea of respectability politics where someone has to conform to the way things are in this state, when the way things are maybe aren’t the right way. Nope, let’s flip this around. Let’s make this state best suited for those who might be having other sorts of challenges that weren’t of their own creation, but how are we supporting them in the way that we function on a daily basis?

Carmella Glenn: Absolutely.

Angela Fitzgerald: Okay. So I feel like there’s a ton I could ask you more. I don’t want to monopolize too much of your day. So I guess I’ll ask you what are the takeaways that you want those viewing this conversation to have? Either those who have no experience in the criminal justice system, are learning things for the first time and maybe want to do something to bring about change or those who have been directly impacted and are just trying to figure it out.

Carmella Glenn: Those that are trying to bring about change, there’s so many layers to it that we have to deal with the bag, right? We have to deal with the bags. So systems have to be changed around sentencing. I have friends who are in prison for the rest of their life for drug sales. Sentences need to be changed. Stop putting people in prison for a crimeless revocations. Madison loves that. No new crime. Someone called and made a false accusation and they just lock you up.

Angela Fitzgerald: I was going to ask you to break that down, crimeless revocation. So literally a call is made and because a call is made and I look suspicious, I can be locked up.

Carmella Glenn: You can be locked up. Or violating one of your rules, but it’s not a new crime. You have no new charges, it’s just this, which could be out too late. And that’s a high rate of the re-entry reincarceration rates in Wisconsin. And so addressing those, having probation and parole in those, doing the work, correctional officers, sergeants trained in privileged, conscious, unconscious bias, racism and what it looks like.

Angela Fitzgerald: The way you said that word was like people don’t believe this is a real word. So racism.

Carmella Glenn: Yes.

Angela Fitzgerald: Yes.

Carmella Glenn: Yes. And what it looks like, so that’s system wise, those people that want to make change. For the people that are doing it agency wide, I sit on a lot of networking agencies also need to take a look at that. We are a white patriarchal system here. It’s just the truth. And so if you’re going to be working with women and men of color, you might want to know something about them and you might want to undo this. And for those that are in it, come see me. You’re welcome. There’s people out there fighting for them every day. I sit in a classroom. I do resource specialists work around their needs. I do peer work around their needs. I get down on my knees with them and hold them. But I’m also showing up at tables that are where the change gets made with the people with the pens.

And so I want them to know that we’re out here fighting for you and we are working on changing the minds of people and what people think about you. We are not the worst thing we ever did and they are not the worst thing they ever did. The only reason some of us aren’t incarcerated is because we didn’t get caught. More than people want to even admit that. And do not be ashamed. Hold your head high and do not be defined by that. You are someone who has been incarcerated before. You are not a convict, a criminal, a felon. You are someone who has been incarcerated. You are a person who has had this happen and has made choices and is no longer that person anymore.

Angela Fitzgerald: So with that mic drop, thank you so much Carmella for joining us today.

Carmella Glenn: Thank you so much for having me.

Angela Fitzgerald: The experiences of men, women and non-binary folks in the justice system are all different. Add in race and the experience changes even more. Black incarceration gets talked about a lot in Wisconsin. The talking seems to be the least we can do. That’s why work-like Carmella’s is so vital. It’s through her efforts that people have the opportunity to work through significant barriers towards employment, and it’s through her action that change is not just being talked about, but actually being made. For more info on Why Race Matters and to hear and watch other episodes, visit us online at PBSwisconsin.org/whyracematters.

Speaker: Funding for Why Race Matters is provided by CUNA Mutual Group, Park Bank, Alliant Energy, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Focus Fund for Wisconsin Programming, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.

 

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Video still courtesy of archive.org and the Prelinger Archives collection.

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Resources

A list of organizations offering a broad array of supportive services for people who are currently or formerly incarcerated, and who are preparing for reentry or have already returned to their communities.


Women and Barriers After Incarceration

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EP. 8 | LENGTH: 17:10

Statement to the Communities We Serve

There is no place for racism in our society. We must work together as a community to ensure we no longer teach, or tolerate it.  Read full statement here.