PAMELA WINN, GEORGIA
`A FIRE STARTED BURNING INSIDE ME, AND SOMETHING INSIDE OF ME SAID `SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?”
LEADING WITH CONVICTION #LwC2017
“When I came out of federal prison after serving five years I just wanted to get on with my life.”
Before my incarceration I had earned three post-secondary degrees in nursing and ran two businesses. My mother, Marilyn Winn, who was part of JLUSA’s second Leading with Conviction cohort, tried to get me involved in reform work, but although I was willing to help out, I wasn’t really interested. Then one day she asked me if I would sit in on a Women on the Rise conference call in her place. I figured I’d just listen, take notes, and tell her what she missed. But that call changed my life. Listening to other women who had been through the experience of incarceration, a fire started burning inside of me, and something inside of me said ‘so what are you going to do? Keep hiding behind your anger, your shame, your guilt and your selfishness, or are you going to act?’ I made a decision that day that I was going to act and be true to myself. I ended up speaking up on the conference call and the next thing I knew I was agreeing to participate in a webinar.
Today I am on the advisory board of Women on the Rise and I serve as the Organizing Director of Reverse the Cycle of Incarceration which works to reduce the number of women under correctional supervision in Georgia. I’m also a member of the Women’s Advisory Team, comprised of women working to end mass incarceration and public health professionals who come together to address the social determinants of criminalization. My current priority is our campaign to restore voting rights to people on parole or probation. In Georgia, you can’t get your voting rights back until you’ve completed probation and parole, but we believe that once you’ve served your time, you shouldn’t have to wait. I am also involved in the implementation of Atlanta’s new Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative (PAD). Launched in June 2016, PAD will divert people whose infractions are driven mainly by addiction, mental illness, and poverty into treatment or other services so that they won’t have a criminal record and can get the help they need. This makes Atlanta and Fulton County only the fifth jurisdiction in the U.S. to adopt this approach.
For me, the Leading with Conviction training has been empowering and it’s helping me be a more effective leader. By providing me with a safe space, I am able to share and reinforce my knowledge, strength and passion for empowering women and restoring rights. I am very proud to be a second generation LwC fellow.