[ photo: Michelle Gienow Baltimore City Paper]
News & Notes
April 12, 2017 • Federal Judge Rules to Enter Consent Decree Agreement with Baltimore Police Department
Last Thursday, community members and organizations packed the U.S. District Court for a public hearing on the Consent Decree to reform the Baltimore Police Department. Representatives from Power Inside, the ACLU, Maryland CASA, Maryland Office of the Public Defender, No Boundaries Coalition, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, and many others issued testimony to the Court on the need for changes to Baltimore Police Department policies and practices of racial bias, unconstitutional stops and arrests, and excessive force. Power Inside presented testimony of the many ways women and members of our LGBTQ communities are targeted for gendered police violence, mishandling of sexual assault investigations and reporting, and sexual misconduct.
Word came down at the end of last week, that Judge Breder had ruled to enter the Consent Decree agreement, and hold BPD accountable for making much needed reforms. We're so inspired by the overwhelming community showing at the hearing, and we're looking forward to continuing to be part of the process to make Baltimore safer for our most vulnerable residents.
Read Power Inside's full testimony below:
- , including lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women gender-based violenceWe have worked with more than 4,000 women who have faced frequent and unavoidable contact with law-enforcement in Baltimore City
We provided over a dozen testimonies from women and LGBTQ members of our community to the Department of Justice, outlining egregious violations of civil and human rights at the hands of the Baltimore Police Department. I’m going to read just a few brief selections from those testimonies, with a warning that these are direct quotes, and some include descriptions of violence. All identifying details are removed to prevent retaliatory violence or arrests. One woman told us “He locked me up for what is called hindering. He said I was hindering. I was never taken to jail, at all, I sat in the police station next to him, and he made me give him some head on the way home.” Another recounts “They call us bitches, whores, prostitutes, tricks. I am sure they don’t offer men sex favors for release. I’ve been offered to give head, fellatio, sex, information, or they’ll gonna lock us up.” Another told us about an incident when she was raped: “I seen a police officer going past on [street name redacted] and I stopped him and I told him what happened, and you know what he told me? He said ‘You just better be glad you not dead.’ And pulled off. I’ll never forget. I don’t know what officer it was but he was in a patrol car.”
These instances are not isolated, and are indicative of systemic failures in police policies and practices that harm the most vulnerable members of our communities. We also know that this behavior is not just a local problem. In fact, according to a report by the Cato Institute, sexual misconduct is the second most reported type of police misconduct nationally. We know there are many other women who have experienced, or are currently experiencing these issues, but are afraid to come forward. When women feel victimized or re-traumatized by interactions with police, it creates a culture of fear that prevents them from seeking justice, or prevents them from reporting other instances of violence they may witness, which creates a threat to public safety that extends far beyond the impact to just these women. A 2014 study by Johns Hopkins University found that 6% of study participants involved in prostitution in Baltimore had been coerced to have sex with a police officer within a given month. A coerced choice between sex or freedom is not a choice at all, but rape. Additionally, the Hopkins study found that 40% of women surveyed don't trust the police enough to report a crime to them.
Much of this gendered police violence intersects with other unconstitutional policing practices outlined in the DOJ report. Many women face intersecting oppressions that compound the impact of police misconduct, and are also represented in “gender-neutral” findings on unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests, racial bias, overly aggressive street enforcement, and excessive force. Women aren’t single issue beings. We are also black, disabled, young, homeless, and poor, and need relief that can be at least partially provided by the reforms in the Consent Decree.
We have participated in numerous conversations with the U.S. Department of Justice over the past two years, on these issues of gendered police violence, sexual misconduct, and mishandling of sexual assault investigations and reporting, and have also submitted more detailed comments on the Consent Decree in writing. We are extremely relieved that the Department of Justice’s motion for a continuance was not granted, and though the remedies in the Consent Decree do not go far enough to protect the most marginalized members of our communities, we appreciate the opportunity to continue pushing for much-needed reform through this process.
September 17, 2015 • Power Inside among first round of Baltimore Justice Fund grantees
We are honored that the Open Society Institute - Baltimore awarded Power Inside a Baltimore Justice Fund grant to support our work around improving police accountability, reducing the number of citizens caught up in the criminal justice system and increasing trauma support and training to residents.
June 01, 2015 • Power Inside awarded Maryland Unites Grant
On June 1, 2015 United Way announced the recipients of 23 Maryland Unites grant, which includes Power Inside's Community Trauma Initiative. Read more about the award in the AFRO article.
December 22, 2014 • Governor’s Commission Recommendations Include Eliminating Unfair Bail System
The Governor’s Commission to Reform Maryland’s Pretrial System (“the Commission”) was established by Governor O'Malley on May 27, 2014. The culminating report of the Commission's work can be found here: http://www.goccp.maryland.gov/pretrial/documents/2014-pretrial-commission-final-report.pdf At the conclusion of an in-depth process, the Commission recommended, that in order to operate the best possible statewide pretrial system, Maryland should:
Eliminate the use of bail and other financial conditions to pretrial release (Rec. Four)
Expand the use of criminal citations on minor offenses in lieu of jail (Rec. Eight)
Determine the differing impact of the pretrial process on people of color, non-English speaking people, and/or low-income people (Rec. Thirteen)
Power Inside, a thirteen year old Baltimore nonprofit program for vulnerable women, works with 300 women per year, most of whom have recently spent time in jail. Data shows that the vast majority of these women are arrested while struggling with chronic health issues, poverty, and trauma. Pretrial detainees are cyclically charged with minor offenses and held in jail on bails as low as $100 prior to court and then, posing little risk to the community, are eventually released. Eliminating bail ensures that Maryland no longer jails low-risk individuals pretrial solely based on their ability to pay—at the expense of the taxpayer. The Commission report offers a road map to create a more equitable and efficient pretrial system. Power Inside Director and member of the Commission, Jacqueline Robarge, commented, “It is incredibly forward-thinking that the Commission has concluded that the bail system is 'unfair to defendants, victims, the general public, and particularly people of color' and must be reformed. Our clients and their families have long been burdened by the collateral consequences of bail and short periods of detention. We must move away from allowing the corporate bail industry to influence public policy. The Commission report guides Maryland toward best practices already successful in other states. We support the full implementation of Commission recommendations.”
May 10, 2014 • Happy Twelfth Birthday Power Inside
Twelve years ago we stepped inside the Baltimore City Detention Center to serve, learn from, and organize with the women detained there. Little did anyone know that the all volunteer project would make such a mark on the city of Baltimore. We would not be here, still working for change, had it not been for the strength and wisdom of the women we worked with in those early years. We have lost many women along the way but wont stop until all women and girls have access to safety, dignity, and justice in Baltimore.
May 01, 2013 • Come to a Talk on Violence Against Women in the Sex Trade
November 06, 2011 • Job Openings at Power Inside
Take a look at our most recent job announcement by clicking HERE.
Power Inside is looking for applicants who will thrive as members of a small, close-knit and hardworking women’s organization. All positions require a positive attitude and personal dedication to justice for women impacted by homelessness, sex trade, incarceration, and drug-use. Excellent listening, customer service and communication skills are a must. Applicants must possess ability to anticipate, prioritize and manage tasks needed to complete projects. She will be flexible and relaxed when faced with changing priorities and while under pressure, and have a commitment to honesty, personal integrity and teamwork. Forget texting and facebook -- work at Power Inside requires a high degree of self-motivation and commitment to the day-to-day activities as well as our cause. Wage based on experience. Survivors, women of color, and lgbt women encourage to apply. Available positions include: Part-time Administrative Associate, Full-time Women’s Homeless Services Worker, Full-time Women’s Advocate, and Part-time Women’s Peer Outreach Worker.
August 30, 2011 • Creating a Culture of Respect: Homeless Service Provider Tips for Trans-Inclusivity
Power Inside has created a resource for human service providers to increase the sensitivity and quality of care at their agencies. Click HERE to download the document. Transgender people face barriers that increase their risk of homelessness, including discrimination, poverty and unemployment. This resource is also useful for individuals looking for steps they can take to be more sensitive to transgender people. Please find out how you can be an ally for safety, dignity and justice for transgender women who need shelter and services in Baltimore.
May 06, 2011 • Power Inside Supports REMEMBER ME
A small but powerful group of young women, deeply impacted by the violence against women and girls in Baltimore, stepped out to form a new group that will honor women harmed or lost to violence. Remember Me held its first vigil on May 5th. Power Inside stood in solidarity with the Remember Me organizers at the vigil. We are inspired by the Remember Me leadership and are grateful that Power Inside members will be acknowledged by them. We have lost so many women and girls to violence.
January 17, 2011 • Director and Power Inside featured in Unsung Baltimore Blog
Unsung Baltimore, the blog of local writer Kevin Griffin Moreno, featured our Director and the amazing staff and work of Power Inside.
December 11, 2010 • Power Inside programs impacted by jail lockdown
The current crisis in the jail hit the Baltimore Sun today. Power Inside is just one of many programs impacted by the lockdown of the city jail.
November 24, 2010 • New report on the needs of men in Baltimore’s jail
Through a grant from the Abell Foundation, Power Inside released the results of a study that details the needs of men detained at the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC). Adjusting the Lens: A Window into the Needs of Men in Jail, by Shawn Flower, PhD, shows that men in Baltimore's jail face overwhelming barriers, such as HIV/AIDS, mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness. The Window Replication Study Project partners, including Catholic Charities of Baltimore, the Mayor's Office of Baltimore City, Power Inside and Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, commissioned the study by Dr. Flower in order to better understand the challenges and opportunities for men in jail, both while they are detained and after their release. Adjusting the Lens builds on Power Inside's earlier work to examine the needs of women in Baltimore's jail.
August 15, 2010 • Power Inside’s work mentioned in jail reentry guidebook
Partnering with Jails to Improve Reentry: A Guidebook for Community-Based Organizations, by the Urban Institute and John Jay Criminal Justice College, and funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, gives community based organizations an overview of jail reentry work and resources to develop partnerships with their local jail. Power Inside contributed suggestions based on nearly 10 years experience providing jail reentry services, vignettes on client success stories, and an agency profile.
June 08, 2010 • Justice Policy releases report on Baltimore’s pretrial system
In Baltimore Behind Bars: How to Reduce the Jail Population, Save Money and Improve Public Safety, Justice Policy Institute details Baltimore’s complex system of city policing practices and court and bail processes that contribute to a high percentage of city residents being detained in the jail. Data from Power inside's 2005 study of the needs of women in Baltimore's jail and our 2009 collaborative study of the needs of men in jail was used to illustrate the challenges that detainees face once they are released into the community.
March 10, 2010 • Power Inside Director appointed to Governor’s Task Force
Jacqueline Robarge was appointed to the Maryland Task Force on Prisoner Re-Entry which was established in May 2009 to promote lower recidivism rates, the Task Force is to examine ways to pool resources and funding streams. Further, the Task Force will analyze: existing hurdles to the reintegration of adult and juvenile offenders into the community; guidelines and criteria for tracking outcomes of re-entry program participation by inmates; and data tracking of the pre- and post-release impact of re-entry programs.
November 27, 2009 • Power Inside Director awarded national honor
The Power Inside Director, Jacqueline Robarge, was awarded the Petra Fellowship, a national award that recognizes the work of “unsung leaders who are making distinctive contributions to the rights, autonomy and dignity of millions who are marginalized in America.” Jacqueline was named one of four new Petra Fellows after the Petra Foundation conducted a national search, nomination, and vetting process.
October 28, 2009 • Radio appearance on the Marc Steiner Show
Power Inside’s director and a member, along with an attorney from Homeless Persons Representation Project, and Baltimore City Housing Commissioner, Paul Graziano, discuss Baltimore Housing Authority policies and their impact on homeless people with minor criminal backgrounds. Listen to the Marc Steiner Show WEAA 88.9 Radio segment here.
October 02, 2009 • Power Inside receives major grant from City
Power Inside received a major grant from City of Baltimore to engage, house and stabilize women who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness. Services provided will include short-term rental assistance, linkages to the Housing Choice Voucher Program and long-term support.
July 31, 2008 • A tragic loss; we will miss you Nicole
May 09, 2008 • Power Inside Director, Jacqueline Robarge, wins Audacious Individual Award from OSI
Jacqueline Robarge was presented the "Audacious Individual" Award from the Open Society Institute. George Soros presented three people the award who have acted boldly with spirited, original ideas to improve the lives of Baltimore's underserved populations.
March 24, 2008 • Rethinking Street Prostitution
Power Inside Director, Jacqueline Robarge, advocates for compassionate and sensible public policy in her piece Rethinking Street Prostitution in Audacious Ideas, the Open Society Institute blog created to stimulate ideas and discussion about solutions to difficult problems in Baltimore.
September 09, 2007 • Power Inside weighs in on Craigslist uproar
June 30, 2006 • Keeping It Real: First group in Maryland for girls and young women in adult prison
Power Inside started the first support group in Maryland for young women in prison. The "Keeping it Real" program for women ages 15-25 at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women was featured in Macroscope, the newsletter for the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office (MACRO). Read here to learn about this very special group funded by MACRO.
May 05, 2006 • Power Inside’s study now in the Journal of Urban Health!
Release from Jail: Moment of Crisis or Window of Opportunity for Female Detainees?, by Rachel L. McLean, Jacqueline Robarge, and Susan G. Sherman is the first study of its kind. This study supports Power Inside’s claim of high rates of homelessness, chronic and urgent care health issues, HIV risk, and limited social support among women detained at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Self-published version available from Power Inside.
April 08, 2004 • Power Inside member featured in City Paper series
Read Afefe Tyehimba's articles: Along Came a Spiral - Danielle Thought Falling Into a Life of Drug Addiction and Prostitution Was Hard--Until She Tried to Get Out on March 31, 2004 & April 7, 2004 in the Baltimore City Paper. Danielle's hopes were to tell her story in order to help other women.
December 01, 2002 • Robarge awarded Fellowship for Power Inside
August 31, 2002 • Conditions in jail found to violate prisoners’ rights
Conditions in jail found to violate prisoners' rights according to a U.S. Justice Department study of Baltimore City Detention Center. Read the Baltimore Sun Article about the facility where Power Inside reaches out to women in jail. Things must change at the jail--women are going in on petty drug and prostitution charges and losing their lives due to preventable causes, such as asthma, suicide, drug complications, and heat stroke. Click here to read the entire report of the Department of Justice findings on the human and civil rights violations at the Baltimore City Detention Center.