Youth Arts New York
& the Real Women of Orange is the New Black present:
SPEAK OUT! Women and Mass Incarceration
A one-day workshop for high school students
SPEAK OUT! Women and Mass Incarceration — personal testimony, restorative justice and a road map to prison abolition. This interactive workshop with the real women behind Orange Is the New Black – Carol Soto, Justine “Taz” Moore, Beatrice Codianni and Dominican Sisters Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert with Dr. Emily Welty, Director of Peace and Justice Studies at Pace University and educators Kathleen Sullivan and Robert Croonquist — explored the mass incarceration of women and its remedies, restorative and transformational justice, and resources for action. The day was a mix of small group work and plenaries.
Beatrice Codianni, Esposito in Orange Is The New Black, served 15 years in Danbury Federal Correctional Institution because of her involvement with the Latin Kings, one of the largest street gangs in the US. She eventually became a leader, serving on their board of directors. She has always denied the charges that she profited from their drug sales and ordered an attack on a rival drug dealer. While incarcerated she was a member of the Danbury AIDS Awareness Group and taught reading to fellow inmates utilizing her Literacy Volunteers of America training. Beatrice studied at Middlesex Community College and Marist College and with the Prison Reentry Institute of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and has served as a consultant to the Director of the University of Connecticut’s Institute for Violence Reduction. Beatrice is the managing editor of the website Reentry Central and has written blogs, op-ed pieces and an article for Ms. Magazine on the collateral consequences of the over-incarceration of women. Beatrice received the 2016 Community Partner Award from the Bridgeport, Connecticut Reentry Collaborative and a Certificate of Special Recognition from Senator Richard Blumenthal. She is a co-founder of the City of New Haven’s Women’s Resettlement Working Group and is a member of the New Haven and Bridgeport Reentry Roundtables. She is a co-founder of Real Women Real Voices, an organization that seeks to educate the public about the over-incarceration of women in America. Additionally, Beatrice is a member of the National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls. The mother of three sons and the grandmother of three girls, Beatrice is the Vice-President of the Quinnipiac East Management Team. She has worked extensively with disenfranchised youth, creating and implementing programs that advocate for them in education, employment, mental and physical health and violence reduction.
Justine Moore, also known as Taz, realized while incarcerated that she wanted to be part of something that would help society in a positive way. She served 16 years at the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution and Federal Prison Camp, nine months in a halfway house and one year of probation. When her parents separated when she was 14 she moved with her mother to an aunt’s apartment in the projects and there decided to work with Rastafarian drug dealers. Thus began her life as a dealer, transporter and “gun-toting girl” determined to get rich or die trying. Her extraordinary lifestyle eventually ended with a federal prison sentence of 240 months (20 years), as well as 10 years supervised release. Justine is a founding member of The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, Families for Justice as Healing, Ladies of Hope Ministries, Free Her and Nothing About Us Without Us. She travels around the country sharing her story, speaking out on mass incarceration and helping women stay out of prison. She is currently attending school to become a drug counselor and is a cook for The Fortune Society.
Sister Ardeth Platte, the inspiration for Sister Jane Ingalls on Orange Is The New Black, Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Jacqueline Hudson broke into an unmanned Minuteman III missile silo in Weld County, Colorado in 2002 and used their blood to protest war, and to advocate for peace and an elimination of nuclear weapons. They were convicted and spent 41 months at Danbury on sedition charges. Jackie Hudson languished for days in the prison infirmary with little treatment for an illness that ultimately claimed her life. Sisters Platte and Gilbert said the experience led them to confront the for-profit prison model that sees incarcerated people as commodities. For decades, Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte have practiced their Roman Catholic faith with an unwavering focus on world peace. They were branded by Maryland State Police as terrorists and placed on a national watch list as part of an extensive surveillance of antiwar activists. Sister Ardeth Platte was one of the founding mothers of the Underground Railroad, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, in Saginaw, Michigan, and served on the Saginaw City Council. She has been an educator, principal and coordinator of an inner city high school and educational center, an elected City Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem, who with others formed a rape crisis center and home for battered women. She participated with Cesar Chavez in the farmworkers struggle, with African Americans in the civil rights movement, and in marches and draft board actions to counter the Vietnam War. As part of their calling as Dominicans, the Sisters believe in the power of organized people to engage in political, legal and direct action to create a just and peaceful world for future generations.
Carol Soto is a holistic health counselor, scenic artist, project coordinator and administrative support professional. She has owned and operated her own adventure tour Company, Dakini Tours, bringing trekkers to Nepal and Tibet and guiding small groups to Himalayan destinations as high as 20,000 feet. Carolina is the character Yoga Janet in Piper Kerman’s book Orange Is The New Black which the popular Netflix series about women in prison is loosely based on. A committed antiwar and social justice activist since the 1970’s, Carol worked with both the Nicaraguan and El Salvador movements to stop the US wars of aggression in those countries. Most recently she worked with Hibakusha Stories, a program of Youth Arts New York that brings atomic bomb survivors into high schools and universities to give personal testimonies of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These presentations were accompanied by interactive lessons on nuclear disarmament. She was arrested for possession of and conspiracy to distribute 80 grams (2.8 ounces) of marijuana under the RICO statutes with 20 co-defendants whom she had never met.