Project SAFE works to improve the services offered to criminalized black women who are survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
On any given day, black women in the United States are three times more likely than white women to be behind bars. And more than eight out of 10 black women engaged in the criminal justice system in the United States are survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
It is in response to statistics such as these that the Center for Court Innovation, Black Women’s Blueprint, the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, and Rev. Dr. Cheryl Dudley of the American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York created Project SAFE. The initiative provides targeted training and expert assistance to Office on Violence Against Women grantees working with criminalized black women who are also survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Project SAFE addresses the intersections of trauma, race, gender, and sexuality by acknowledging the needs of black women engaged in the justice system through enhanced trauma-informed responses and practices. Our training and technical assistance includes trauma-informed engagement, strategic planning, needs assessments, developing implementation strategies, and more.
Project SAFE Podcasts
In addition to the interview introducing the program with Afua Addo, the Center's coordinator of Gender and Justice Initiatives (see the audio player above), we have produced two other podcasts related to Project SAFE:
In the first, Afua Addo speaks with the Rev. Dr. Cheryl F. Dudley, the regional executive minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York. Dr. Dudley discusses the history of black churches in America as well as their role, along with other spiritual communities, in supporting criminalized black women survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
In the second, Afua Addo is joined by Farah Tanis, co-founder and executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint. Tanis discusses the creation of the Blueprint and highlights its work organizing with black women on issues that impact their daily lives. She points to the high rate of domestic violence and sexual assault and exploitation confronting black women and the importance of continued advocacy for criminalized and incarcerated black women.
In the third podcast, Afua Addo is joined by Dr. Monique Morris, the co-founder and president of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, and Andrea C. James, the founder and executive director of the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. They discuss the importance of focusing on the lived experiences of black criminalized women who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence and engaging survivors in community-led organizing and policy work to effect change. They also highlight the need to focus on the needs and desires of black women and girls that will help them to both thrive and grow.
Webinar: Specifying the Needs of Justice-Involved Black Women
Over the past twenty years, there has seen a significant rise in criminalized and incarcerated women in the United States, with women of color over-represented throughout the system. Research on justice system responses has shown that a one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective. For women defendants, it is especially critical that their needs are met in an individualized, gender-responsive way. This can be complicated further when the line between victim and defendant blurs, particularly in cases involving intimate partner violence and human trafficking.
The webinar below from January 2018 addresses the specific needs of justice-involved black women and outlines a series of best practices for people working with these populations. It also highlights the work of the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court in New York City and its Hidden Victims Project that works to identify victims of human trafficking and link them to services.
If you are interested in receiving training and technical assistance, please contact us. We also invite you to join our Project SAFE forum, a space for individuals and organizations engaged with the project to pose questions, share ideas, and discuss themes related to the work. The Center for Court Innovation moderates discussions and posts in this forum.