Mass Incarceration

These women are fighting Nevada’s prison system—and winning

Meet the women fighting Nevada's prison system | Rattling the Bars

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 exacerbated the prevailing disaster of incarceration within the US, which has the very best incarceration price of any nation on this planet. Throughout this time, a gaggle of girls with family members incarcerated in Nevada’s jail system based the group Return Strong to combat for decarceration and the profitable re-entry of previously incarcerated individuals into society. Return Strong Government Director Jodi Hocking and Neighborhood Organizer Ashley Gaddis be a part of Rattling the Bars to debate the combat in opposition to mass incarceration in Nevada.

Studio/Submit-Manufacturing: Cameron Granadino


The next is a preliminary transcript and will include errors. It will likely be up to date as quickly as attainable.

Mansa Musa: Welcome to this version of Rattling the Bars. I’m Mansa Musa co-host with Eddie Conway. As I at all times do, first, I need to say Glad New 12 months to all of the Rattling the Bars listeners and viewers and The Actual Information watchers and listeners. I need to replace you all on Eddie Conway. I had the chance to go to his spouse Dominique and Eddie Conway is doing nice.

In some unspecified time in the future in time, we hope to have Eddie Conway make a cameo look on this program that he created and the community that he beloved. At this time we’ve a unprecedented group of individuals, however extra importantly, we’ve a unprecedented instance of what George Jackson described in his essay in the direction of the United Fronts.

He mentioned that the sheer variety of individuals which are incarcerated, while you examine that with the individuals which are incarcerated and their relations, the one logical conclusion you possibly can draw is that we’ve a large quantity of people who, if organized, might actually have impression on the best way the system is structured and the best way the system deal with individuals.

Right here right this moment to speak about simply which are two extraordinary ladies. One is Jodi Hocking and Ashley Gaddis. Welcome to Rattling the Bars.

Jodi Hocking: Thanks.

Mansa Musa: First, let’s begin with you Ashley. Inform the Rattling the Bars a bit of bit about your self.

Ashley Gaddis: Effectively, my title is Ashley and I’m from Las Vegas and I’m formally incarcerated. I’ve been in and thru each techniques, the federal and state system. I’ve been straight impacted by the circumstances of jail and the justice system as a complete. I’m a part of Return Robust now as employees to attempt to make a distinction inside the system and coverage and hope for higher circumstances.

Mansa Musa: Okay. Jodi, inform us a bit of bit about your self. Inform the Rattling the Bars viewers and listeners a bit of bit about your self.

Jodi Hocking: Yeah. Howdy. Thanks for having us. My title is Jodi Hocking. I’ve been a Labor Organizer for a really very long time and am impacted, my husband’s incarcerated. I based, and now I’m the Government Director of Return Robust, which is a company that’s actually two-sided.

On one facet, we actually heart the voices of previously incarcerated and presently incarcerated individuals, after which however, we work with households of the incarcerated to really be the fingers and toes of this motion.

Mansa Musa: Okay. You all primarily positioned on in Nevada, proper?

Jodi Hocking: We’re primarily positioned… Effectively, let me say this. We’re targeted on work in Nevada as a result of what we’ve in frequent is both family members who’re incarcerated in Nevada, however our activists actually are everywhere in the world as a result of our family members are incarcerated in Nevada, however we don’t all essentially reside there.

Mansa Musa: Okay. That’s good. All proper. Let’s begin by inspecting, as a result of we’re speaking about Return Robust, which is a grassroots group that was created by the relations of women and men which are incarcerated. As you outlined only a minute in the past, because the women and men return, they change into part of Return Robust.

However let’s speak about… Earlier than we go into speaking in regards to the group, and I’m going to direct this to you, Ashley, since you skilled a whole lot of the horrendous circumstances that happen within the prisons.

You may weigh in on as properly, Jodi. However let’s speak in regards to the jail industrial complicated in Nevada. Ashley, you served federal jail and also you served state jail as properly. Discuss in regards to the jail industrial complicated in Nevada as you perceive it.

Ashley Gaddis: Okay. From my expertise, I began my time in a personal jail right here in Nevada when it was CCA. I’ve been concerned on this system from privately ran establishment to a state ran establishment. Principally, I’ve seen it go from reform to human warehousing, which means circumstances simply worsen.

The issue or the key points which are occurring are, there’s a whole lot of abuse, bodily, mentally, and verbal abuse inside the establishment. A whole lot of the employees that work there have labored at a person’s jail so they arrive there treating the ladies like males.

Mansa Musa: Proper.

Ashley Gaddis: Any complaints that occur, for probably the most half get ignored, get shift round, not heard.

Mansa Musa: Okay.

Ashley Gaddis: Sadly, it’s a system that basically doesn’t take ladies prisoners critical from our psychological wants, our medical wants, our bodily wants and we’re simply categorized as one.

Mansa Musa: Let me ask you this right here, as a result of I do know from doing earlier stories on coping with ladies jail. What number of ladies prisons, to your data, are in Las Vegas or are in Nevada?

Ashley Gaddis: There’s roughly 800 to a thousand between the principle jail, which is Smiley Street, Florence McClure, and our camp in Jean, Nevada.

Mansa Musa: So 800 to a thousand ladies?

Ashley Gaddis: Sure.

Mansa Musa: However what number of prisons have they got? As a result of for instance, within the state of Maryland, they’ve one girl’s jail for the state of Maryland, and that one girl’s jail is encompass security-wise, most, minimal and since they don’t don’t have any pre-release system, they don’t have the fitting to progress by the system.

I’m making an attempt to suppose and see if that is the constant idea in the case of ladies jail all through the US. So what number of ladies prisons have they got?

Ashley Gaddis: Sure, you’re appropriate. We’ve one jail that holds medium most and we’ve one camp.

Mansa Musa: Okay. So this goes… Go forward.

Ashley Gaddis: No, and this goes from… Our Florence McClure jail holds the roughly 800 to 850 ladies now. That’s only recently due to Covid, however they’ve been over-populated over a thousand, which isn’t presupposed to occur and housing ladies within the health club or in different models on bunk beds due to the overcrowding.

Mansa Musa: So that is constant. After we’re speaking in regards to the jail industrial complicated and mass incarceration, which is the brand new type of slavery, the narrative is constant all through the nation that, as if jail in and of itself shouldn’t be [inaudible 00:08:24] and horrendous, now ladies are discriminated in opposition to in society.

Misogynistic society, racist society, a sexist society, however then they discover themselves incarcerated and discriminated in opposition to once more within the type of not being given no fairness. Jodi, speak about how did Return Robust come into existence.

Jodi Hocking: We began like many locations did in response to some circumstances that had been happening in 2020. One, was my very own private response to the homicide of George Floyd and feeling as a middle-aged white girl, what do I do to begin to… ?

When you bear in mind actually the racial divide that was happening within the nation at the moment and I had executed a whole lot of anti-racism work. I began with a ebook membership and I labored with lecturers throughout the nation. After which I made a decision my husband was incarcerated and had simply gone again on a violation.

I began to actually take into consideration how households of the incarcerated, a whole lot of occasions over intensify private duty and any individual’s private piece of a criminal offense or conviction, and that they miss among the systemic points that occur along with that.

I made a decision to begin. Actually, it was presupposed to be only a household Peer Studying Circle, was the place it began. My background is in organizing although. I’m a Labor Organizer and imagine so deeply within the energy of collective motion and that we’re at all times stronger collectively.

We began, on August sixth, 2020, we had our first household assembly. There have been about 10 ladies there, and three weeks later, Nevada Division of Corrections in response to Marcy’s Legislation, carried out an 80 to one hundred percent deduction of any cash that went on individuals’s books, any cash they had been making from jail industries.

I felt like we had to select. We had been both going to combat for everybody or we had been going to strive to determine how you can pay for ourselves, our family members’ restitution. We took on that combat and we actually weren’t even in existence but.

We had had one household assembly and individuals who knew us again then, I saved telling individuals, I don’t know what we’re doing, however we’ve to do one thing. Which is my customary reply to the whole lot is, I don’t at all times know the solutions.

I simply know the one factor we are able to’t do is stand nonetheless and watch these things go down. We began preventing that. We truly had been in a position to get a keep inside the first month of it occurring.

We obtained to remain from the governor for about 5 months and finally stole a invoice out from underneath NDOC, flipped it and put statutory caps on restitution and deductions, which was superb. They needed to repay individuals any cash that they’d taken with out [inaudible 00:11:38]. It was an enormous win. I might’ve beloved to get it to go to no restitution.

Mansa Musa: Zero. Proper.

Jodi Hocking: Typically it’s a must to combat for the very best case situation after which we don’t have management over all of it. However it made an enormous distinction for individuals who had been in jail and owed any cash to the jail system as a result of they had been actually, in case you put 100 {dollars}, I do know my husband was getting $8 out of {that a} hundred they usually had been taking all the remainder of it.

As quickly as we obtained the keep on that, the Covid outbreak occurred in Nevada and Heat Springs Correctional Heart went from zero instances to about 400 instances inside days. We had been monitoring that info and so had been going to the media saying, NDOC, they’re mendacity about their numbers. That may’t be true. This isn’t true.

When the outbreak occurred, it created a whole lot of questions for NDOC. Regardless that we don’t win each battle we’re in with them, we’ve gotten the eye of media actually throughout the nation after which different grassroots organizations. It’s created a scenario the place we’ve received a number of fights with them, the place no person has ever received earlier than. It’s simply created an enormous distinction.

Mansa Musa: Ashley, because it stand proper now, you’re previously, you might be within the midway home?

Ashley Gaddis: Sure, I’m in a particular… I’m in a specialty program that gave an early launch and this program is thru the courts.

Mansa Musa: All proper. How did you change into concerned with Return Robust, or when did you change into conscious? As a result of Jodi, you all have been in existence since 2020 what? Two?

Jodi Hocking: 2020. Our non-profit fashioned in 2022.

Mansa Musa: Okay. Ashley, how did you change into concerned with Return Robust?

Ashley Gaddis: Okay. There was once one other group referred to as Nevada Remedy that helped inmates. They fell off after which I began to get literature from Return Robust. As an inmate, we’re at all times leery on these organizations as a result of are they only speaking? What do they do? Are they going to assist us? Do they care?

All these questions go [inaudible 00:14:16] till we see the existence of it and the actions behind the group. Like Jodi mentioned, the restitution difficulty got here up that affected many individuals. We began getting literature from them and I’m like, okay, they need to know.

They despatched these surveys by asking who has been affected how. And I’m like, wow, okay. They’re participating, they need to know. I reached out to them. I didn’t essentially have a restitution difficulty, however I knew many individuals that did. They don’t know how you can attain out so I guided different individuals at first.

Right here, that is who you must speak to, that is who you must contact. After which as I noticed Return Robust making strikes and actually making noise and making a distinction, I’m like, yeah, that is who I want to attach with. I stayed linked.

As a result of I do have my paralegal cert, so I do know what sort of system that I’m coping with. I’m coping with the system that, something we do is out of date. However something constitutional so far as violations of our rights, I’ll soar.

I obtained concerned with that, be it by the grievance, be it by reaching out to Jodi as a result of that’s what issues, not curling irons and stuff, however [inaudible 00:15:57].

Mansa Musa: Proper.

Ashley Gaddis: Yeah, as extra issues began progressing, Covid hit, like Jodi mentioned, and we had one other difficulty that was upfront. I organized and I communicated and I obtained individuals concerned and stepping out of jail right into a specialty court docket, I stayed linked and reached out to Jodi and right here I’m. I do know Nevada’s coverage is actual trickery and it’s a whole lot of phrases [inaudible 00:16:41].

Mansa Musa: What do you imply by that?

Ashley Gaddis: The legal guidelines and the AR insurance policies, the jail insurance policies. They use a whole lot of meaningless language and there’s a whole lot of confusion with it. However as a result of I’ve executed a whole lot of time on this system, I obtained very acquainted with the language and that’s what I assist Return Robust with is deciphering a few of that language the place there’s a whole lot of confusion.

Mansa Musa: Jodi, as a result of Ashley simply talked about how from her personal private expertise and being a sufferer of a whole lot of the abuses, how after they grew to become conscious of you all, the best way they vetted you all by way of ensuring that you simply all was critical in regards to the work that you simply all was doing, as a result of I’m acquainted with that as properly.

Being formally incarcerated individuals oftentimes come within the system, however they’re not ready to do the heavy lifting by way of staying the course. They’ll give a whole lot of lip service to our points and considerations.

Discuss why is it that you simply all have been so profitable at mobilizing the jail inhabitants? As a result of in line with you, you all obtained over 4,000 people who’s concerned. Discuss the way you all have been in a position to mobilize the jail inhabitants, to have the impression that it has had by way of altering insurance policies. We’ll speak about a few of you all future goals.

Jodi Hocking: Ash, be happy to contradict me in case you don’t suppose that is correct. I feel what occurred is at first, we immediately began writing to individuals as a result of I used to be like, I needed to listen to from individuals who had been being impacted by deductions, by what’s happening with Covid.

Are they feeding you? The entire completely different points that had been occurring and I used to beg them. I might ask questions. Right here’s some questions on Covid. What’s happening with mattress transfers? As a result of we had been listening to from… I’m an enormous Howardson fan.

Howardson at all times talks about, throughout any interval, there’s at all times the federal government’s model of historical past and there’s the individuals’s model of historical past. I used to be listening to NDOC at each one in all their conferences and I used to be like, they’re mendacity. That’s not what individuals are telling us. They’d come to conferences and provides this false testimony.

I obtained my group collectively and we simply began begging individuals virtually to only talk with us, inform us what’s happening with Covid. Inform us what’s happening with mattress transfers, meals, medical care, no matter it was. We needed to know what was happening.

I used to inform them, and I nonetheless do the identical factor once we ship newsletters in is, I can’t promise we’re going to work on each difficulty proper now. Inform us the story. We now use a database that catalogs each letter that we get.

When you needed to find out about how many individuals have written to us about solitary confinement circumstances, I can run a report, we are able to pull these letters and I can reply that. After we first began it was a field of letters. Have you learnt what I imply? However we now get hundreds of letters.

I feel we’re most likely near 4,000 letters in 2022. We inform individuals, we set the expectation that we’re not going to have the ability to reply everybody. We’re working full-time jobs. This isn’t… Up till just a few months in the past we had been unfunded. We had been simply open and sincere.

I feel I wrote to individuals extra like I used to be writing to mates of mine than I used to be writing an expert letter, which is how, the best way that I work together anyway. However it was a two-way road. They’d share info with us and we might use that info to maneuver ahead an agenda that took what they had been crucial factor that they had been bringing.

Mansa Musa: Proper.

Jodi Hocking: As well as, we needed to stability that with areas that we thought we might win and what sources. However then I might clarify to them, for this reason we’re doing this as an alternative of this or we’re making an attempt to file a grievance with the DOJ, we’re making an attempt to do…

It’s one thing the place we labored collectively. So actually what we did is arrange and we actually used a union construction to prepare contained in the prisons. As individuals would write to us, we had people who had been jailhouse attorneys or unit organizers so I might have a contact and our aim is at all times to develop that.

If I have to get a message in, Ashley was a unit organizer and a jailhouse lawyer. One other function we’ve is vital documentors. These individuals who can take what the problems are and break them down into ways in which once we learn them, for individuals who haven’t been incarcerated that we’re like, that’s what they imply.

That’s what issues. Proper? [inaudible 00:21:41] of points and we use their letters to alter hearts and minds. We’re the fingers and toes of this work, however previously incarcerated [inaudible 00:21:49].

Mansa Musa: Sound like by way of organizing, you all have the right union. Jodi, what’s you all technique going ahead?

Jodi Hocking: I feel going into 2023 and 24, we’re a biannual legislature. We solely have legislature each different yr. This yr we’ve a double alternative, which I at all times like to take a look at the whole lot as alternatives. We’ve a brand new governor. He’s 30 years in regulation enforcement, so there are some challenges which are going to be there.

However we even have a brand new Director of Jail. Proper earlier than Covid hit, we had a brand new director who was pressured to resign, I imagine in October of final yr. There’s some hope there that they don’t need the dangerous press that the previous administration had.

There’ve already been some strikes. The brand new director is already assembly and we’re planning some conferences, however we’ve a plan that we’re delivering a letter and asking them for sure conferences and the primary 100 days of their administration.

Mansa Musa: Okay.

Jodi Hocking: The very first thing we’re asking for them to do is to fulfill with previously incarcerated individuals and stakeholders. We’re additionally asking them to come back to the desk with NDOC to speak about points which are occurring inside amenities.

After which to additionally maintain a public assembly the place individuals can come and truly specific what their considerations are and what the stress has been of the previous a number of years, to be able to actually pivot the path of corrections.

With this new administration, I really feel prefer it is a chance to pivot into a brand new path of what do we would like corrections to appear like in Nevada in 5 years and 10 years and 15 years. We don’t need extra of the abuses which are happening now. We don’t need our prisons to be on the highest 20 worst prisons in the US that Ely is at all times on the record of.

It’s time to do one thing completely different. Whereas we’re coping with administration that could be extra conservative in some methods, as an organizer, I have a look at, there’re going to be components that we fully disagree, however the candy spot of the place we are able to make change is on the areas that we agree.

We agree that [inaudible 00:24:11] should be handled humanely, that solitary confinement isn’t the reply. That rehabilitation is extra necessary than punishment and ache. Specializing in these areas that we are able to change. We’re engaged on that within the hundred-day plan.

The opposite factor that we’re engaged on is, I feel one of many struggles for our in group has been that corrections can hold us preventing issues which are the tip of the iceberg. They’re not feeding individuals, they’re not doing this, all of the issues they’re doing mistaken, the restitution, Covid.

We might combat these issues on the tip of the iceberg and we’ll by no means run out of fights. However one of many actually core adjustments that we need to make is, how do we alter the tradition round incarceration?

We’re abolitionists, properly, not all of us are, however we’re based on abolitionist beliefs that we’ve to deconstruct these techniques whereas we’re additionally constructing communities which are prepared for worlds with out jail. How will we educate people who find themselves not touched by incarceration? I feel…

Mansa Musa: Proper and I feel that dialog goes to be the bigger dialog as a result of that’s a dialog that’s beginning to take form nationwide. However Ashley, speak about what you see by way of the jail inhabitants and the longer term because it pertains to your function in Return Robust.

Ashley Gaddis: Effectively, I’m hoping that the system turns into extra conducive with reform and eliminating the stereotyping of excessive danger offenders, not giving them the chance to reform and protecting that stigma there in addition to the circumstances.

I imply it’s simply one thing has to interrupt. What’s happening proper now can’t proceed to be occurring and the entire thing with Covid, quite a bit is being blamed on Covid. Effectively, we’re out of Covid and it’s time to transfer ahead in a brand new path.

Mansa Musa: Proper.

Ashley Gaddis: Yeah.

Mansa Musa: And [inaudible 00:26:42].

Ashley Gaddis: I simply [inaudible 00:26:43].

Mansa Musa: Go forward, come on.

Ashley Gaddis: I’d like to focus on one thing actual fast with Nevada and the ladies, okay. As a result of it doesn’t begin in jail. It begins with the sentencing and the courts. It begins with the disappropriateness of the sentence buildings. You may have men and women committing crimes collectively.

You may have the person with a document and he’s getting much less time than a girl, than a mom, a spouse, and that’s an enormous quantity in Nevada’s jail of girls which are on co-defendant conspiracy prices.

You may have ladies coming in there simply damaged off the highest. Spiritually, mentally, bodily, all of that after which you could have a system that’s abusive and neglectful and there’s no dignity there. There’s no humaneness there. So what do they anticipate to occur [inaudible 00:27:51]?

Mansa Musa: I feel it is a perspective nationwide when it come to ladies generally and this cope with this racist, sexist, misogynistic society that we discover ourselves in. Like I informed you, they obtained one girl’s jail in Maryland, most safety and medium safety and psychological safety.

However ladies can’t get to work launch since you don’t don’t have any work launch surroundings. However Jodi, give us a contact on your group and the way individuals can get in contact with you all and what you need individuals to know, what you need individuals to do by way of supporting you all.

Jodi Hocking: I feel there’s just a few issues. One, we at all times are searching for volunteers and you’ll simply attain our social media on our web site, the whole lot is identical. It’s Return Robust NV for Nevada. Possibly sometime we’ll drop the NV and simply be nationwide. Who is aware of?

That’s the simplest means. When you go to the web site, we’re on Instagram, we’re on Twitter and we’re on Fb with that very same. The opposite factor that we’re opening up this yr and that basically individuals are welcome nationwide is, we’re going to be implementing, they’re referred to as Peer Studying Circles.

One of many issues in regards to the change that should occur is that it’s not simply… I feel it must be led by people who find themselves impacted, however Peer Studying Circles are actually an area the place everyone’s a learner. You may be taught from a hurt discount specialist, any individual can be taught from you when you’ve got a beloved one which’s incarcerated otherwise you had been formally incarcerated.

We might be beginning Peer Studying Circles. I feel the primary one is definitely in February and we’re going to open that as much as anyone. It’s going to be on Zoom. We will have as much as 100 individuals. We will get away into small teams.

It’ll be as soon as 1 / 4, however it offers you the chance to actually, not even community, however simply come and be taught from different individuals. Irrespective of the way you be taught, what you be taught, it’s an area that basically respects that. I feel that’s how we begin attending to the foundation of the issue is…

Mansa Musa: Okay. There you could have it. The Actual Information about Return Robust and the Nevada jail system as we simply was given this info by Jodi and Ashley. We needed to remind our listeners and our viewers to be conscious of, we’re speaking about jail industrial complicated and we’re speaking about mass incarceration.

We’re additionally speaking in regards to the blatant discrimination in opposition to ladies within the Nevada jail system as Ashley simply outlined. We encourage everybody to go to the Return Robust web site and take a look at what they obtained to supply. Thanks girls for this and pleasant dialog.

Jodi Hocking: Thanks a lot for having us.

Ashley Gaddis: Thanks.

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