Over the last three decades, the number of women in prison has risen more than 800 percent. While this statistic is staggering, the numbers alone do not begin to reflect the deep disruption such incarcerations inflict on families, communities, the courts, and the public health system, says Catherine Cerulli, director of the University of Rochester's Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership.
To explore the broader issue of women and the justice system, legal and medical professionals, women's advocates, and former inmates will meet on Friday, June 21, for the first Justice Involved Women Conference.
"The term 'justice involved' describes women who are involved in our courts and prison system both in a professional capacity as well as defendants and prisoners," said Cerulli, a co-creator of the conference.
Sponsored by the Anthony Center for Women's Leadership and the Women's Initiative Supporting Health (WISH) at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), the conference will serve as a discussion forum for topics like re-entry, funding challenges, and the justice system.
"We want to raise the profile of justice involved women by helping people understand the true scope of the problem," said Diane Morse, co-creator of the conference and an internal medicine physician and assistant professor of psychiatry at University of Rochester. According to Morse, justice involved women's issues often range from violence, mental health, and other medical risks which affect their lives of loved ones beyond the prison system. "It becomes a cycle and there are many ways to address this, which is why we want to open the conversation so people understand this in the context of their own lives."
The day's events begin at 8 a.m. at the Staybridge Suites in Rochester and are open to the public. Registration costs $45. For additional information visit http://www.rochester.edu/SBA/ or call 585.275.8799.