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Discussion aims to shine a light on women returning home after prison

Babz Rawls Ivy
Babz Rawls Ivy
Babz Rawls Ivy
Babz Rawls Ivy

Though the number of men going to prison nationwide has declined in the past 15 years, the number of women has increased. Women’s admissions to Connecticut’s prisons rose more than sixfold from 1978 to 2017, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.

Babz Rawls Ivy wants to shine a light on barriers women face when they return home from prison. The former New Haven alderwoman admitted stealing federal grant money in 2007 and served time at a Danbury federal prison camp.

“When women go to prison, the family collapses,” she said. “Things break down. So when women come out of prison they have to rebuild from the ground up.”

Rawls Ivy will host a discussion about difficulties facing formerly incarcerated women as part of this year’s International Festival of Arts and Ideas.

“If they have children, they have to go and see about how to get their kids back. If they don’t have a job, they have to get a job. If they lost their housing, they’ve got to go find housing.”

And navigating the system on the outside is not easy, she said.

“When women come home here in Connecticut, I mean the resources are spread out. So you have to really connect the dots depending on where you land. And that can be quite challenging.”

Learn more
“Women Navigating the New Normal: Exploring Prison Re-entry” takes place virtually on June 7 at 5:30 p.m. To learn more about this event and dozens of arts performances at this year’s festival, visit artidea.org.

Diane Orson is a special correspondent with Connecticut Public. She is a longtime reporter and contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories have been heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now. Diane spent seven years as CT Public Radio's local host for Morning Edition.

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