The Women’s Justice Project (WJP) is the first and only program in Oregon to exclusively address issues related to women intersecting with the criminal legal system.
Over the past twenty years, the incarceration rate of women in Oregon has tripled, while the arrest rate for women has decreased 36-40% during that time. Despite these troubling statistics and the known detrimental impact that incarcerating women has on our communities, women in the criminal legal system have largely been left out of conversations around reform and ending mass incarceration. The Women's Justice Project was created to address this missing perspective.
Our goals are to ensure that the criminal legal system treats women fairly, protects their health and safety, and makes it possible for them to successfully rejoin their communities when they are released. We do this through focused direct legal services, strategic partnerships, public awareness campaigns, and coordinating our legal and advocacy areas to positively impact outcomes in favor of gender-responsive reforms in the criminal legal system.
Re*Membering. Legal services for incarcerated people.
We provide limited legal assistance to women incarcerated in Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF), Oregon’s only women’s prison. We help clients identify non-criminal legal issues that are or might become barriers to successful reentry into the community, and work with them to resolve issues or plan around roadblocks. Examples of legal issue areas include: family-related, financial/debt, work-related, benefits, ID/driver’s license, and property-related.
In 2019, the legislature passed HB 2631 to fund the expansion of the WJP’s reentry-focused individual legal services in CCCF as a two-year pilot program (2019-2021). The OJRC and its WJP attorneys dedicated to this pilot program are working in collaboration with Oregon Department of Corrections, the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to collect data to inform our legal services and potential reforms, and with partner organizations to expand the network of support for women transitioning out of prison.
Thank you to CCCF Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Emily Brault, who inspired the name of our CCCF legal services program.
“One of the images I use that helps me practice Love is the experience of remembering. I don’t mean remembering as in terms of nostalgic reminiscences of the past, … but re-membering as in returning people to membership, or bringing people into community, or something we do with our hearts and our guts. People in prison are often a forgotten people. …When I remember people, when I build relationship and community with them, I am acknowledging the actuality of their life, and affirming the worth and dignity of their existence. …One of the side-affects of remembering is that when we bring people into community, we are changed.” – Rev. Dr. Emily Brault
women in prison conference
Our Women in Prison Conference takes place each year in Portland. The conference presentations aim to demystify legal aspects of the criminal system, address common misconceptions, amplify the voices of women impacted by criminal legal system policies, and explore avenues for reform. This event has consistently sold out over the years. Our attendees are social service providers, corrections and community corrections staff, lawyers, formerly incarcerated people, state and local decision-makers, and other community members. More information about the conference.
herstory oregon survey in cccf
In 2017 and 2018, the WJP and Portland State University’s Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, with the cooperation of CCCF, surveyed over 140 women incarcerated in CCCF about their experiences through the criminal process – from arrest to sentencing, from intake in CCCF to their thoughts about their future release from prison. The purpose of the Survey was to hear directly from women and identify problematic trends in their treatment in Oregon’s criminal legal system. The intent is to use this information to highlight for decisionmakers and the community needs for a fairer and more just criminal legal system. The results of the survey are share through a series of reports. More information about the survey.
story collection and herstory oregon website
We believe that everyone has a story that is worth listening to and deserves to be shared with a wider audience. Yet, once women enter our criminal legal system, their voices are often silenced. The HerStory Oregon Story Collection offers an opportunity for women to speak about their experiences, to tell their truth to the community, and to be part of changing the system for the better. The collected stories are maintained on the HerStory Oregon website, which also serves as a resource with various information about women in Oregon’s criminal legal system.
parole board prep group in cccf
Quarterly, we provide information and a space for support and discussion for women in CCCF who have been convicted of murder and aggravated murder and will be having a hearing before the Board of Parole to determine whether they will be released from prison. This hearing is often called a Murder Review Hearing. Most individuals have little to no idea what is expected of them and how to prepare for a Murder Review Hearing. Knowing this information can encourage people to engage in rehabilitative activities and programs, and gives those who have truly rehabilitated and accepted accountability a better chance at a fair decision by the Board.
resources by the WJP
HerStory Oregon Survey Results Reports
• Mental Health, Physical Health and Substance Use (September 2019)
• Intimate Partner Violence and Trauma (February 2019)
Women in Prison Conference 2018: Women and Measure 11 (November 2018)
This report describes the presentations given at our 2018 Women in Prison Conference. Keynote address: Navigating and Transcending the Gravitational Pull of Privilege and Structural Bias to Work for Justice Inside the Legal System, by The Honorable Darleen Ortega
Unlocking Measure 57 (Updated May 2018)
This report walks through the history of sentencing laws as it relates to the repeat property offender laws and Measure 57, which created a mandatory minimum sentencing scheme for repeat property offenses. Repealing Measure 57 is just and fair and the surest and swiftest way to make a significant impact on the ever-growing number of women in CCCF.
An Alternative to Women’s Prison Expansion in Oregon (September 2016)
In response to the overcrowding at Oregon's only women's prison and the legislature's discussions to release emergency funds to open a second women's prison, this report suggests immediate solutions to reduce the number of women incarcerated in prison in Oregon.
Women in Prison in Oregon (September 2016)
This report compiles publicly available information about women in CCCF into one resource.
GUIDES FOR INCARCERATED PEOPLE IN OREGON
If You Have an ICE Detainer: Practical Tips for Preparing to Transfer from State Prison to the Northwest Detention Center (In collaboration with the OJRC’s Immigrant Rights Project) (August 2019)
A Guide to Preparing for Your Murder Review Hearing (In collaboration with the OJRC’s Youth Justice Project) (June 2019)