Documentary spurs discussion
Yesterday Nurture KC hosted a virtual screening of the documentary Belly of the Beast by Erika Cohn. It examines illegal sterilization practices in prison, along with poor healthcare, sexual abuse and assault, and targeting women of color. Kelli Dillon is one of the film’s subjects who experienced an unlawful sterilization while incarcerated and went on to advocate for others upon her release.
Nurture KC hosted this screening where 40 people watched the film and 20 participated in a group discussion afterward, which was moderated by Journey to New Life.
“Nurture KC advocates for the well-being of all women,” says Shannon Williams, Healthy Start Program Director. “Learning of the atrocities perpetrated against women incarcerated within the California Department of Corrections led us to inquire about how ‘justice involved’ women in Missouri are treated. This includes women who are in prison, on probation, diversion or parole. Viewing Belly of the Beast and having an open discussion with staff from Journey to New Life allowed attendees to gain insider knowledge on urgent health issues, as well as learn how we can better serve women and help them rebuild their lives.”
A few key take-aways from the film discussion include:
- Women of color, especially Black women, are not seen as victims
- Tougher laws on crime (i.e. substance use) have caused an increase in female incarceration
- Many incarcerated women are victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and sex trafficking
- Urgent needed improvements for incarcerated women:
1) Access to healthcare and mental health services
2) Education (self-advocacy, nutrition and parental expectations)
3) Rehabilitation services to prepare for reentry
4) Trauma-informed care training for Department Of Corrections staff