Working Towards a Better Tomorrow
Clover A. Perez is the Founder and Executive Director of A Beautiful HEART Ministries. At ABHM our work is grounded by four pillars, sustainability, wellness, empowerment and policies. As we continue to increase our footprint, we find that it's necessary to operate on a broad portfolio. Conversely, our four pillars are the bedrock of the work that we do in any area, and is imbued throughout our mission, which is to improve the quality of life for formerly incarcerated women and girls by providing resources, educational tools, trauma care, spiritual empowerment, entrepreneurship, safe housing, workshops and seminars to facilitate change, restore healing and reduce recidivism.
ABHM concept is simple, to bring awareness to the plight of women and girls in prisons, to draw open the curtains as wide as possible so the public can have a better understanding of what it’s like to be the “Faces of Women and Girls in Prisons.”
Not only am I the founder and Executive Director of ABHM, I am also a formerly incarcerated woman who have served time in federal prison for a white-collar crime. My time in prison has afforded me the opportunity to speak with the many women and girls who were incarcerated along with me. What I have learned is that there is a brutal familiarity in their stories. Women have been ripped away from their children, and families, causing psychological and financial hardship not just for the incarcerated individual, but for potentially many generations going forward.
The United States of America has maintained the highest female incarceration rate in the world. According to Prison Policy Initiative "Of the girls confined in youth facilities, nearly 10% are held for status offenses, such as "running away, truancy, and incorrigibility." Between 1980 and 2019, the number of incarcerated women increased by more than 700%. The typical American is often surprised to discover that many of the women and girls, who are warehoused in prisons, are first-time non-violent offenders serving draconian sentences for a non-violent crime, and approximately 80% of these women and girls suffered from some form of trauma which led to their incarceration.
Consequently, even though the United States of America only consists of 5% of the world’s population, it still leads the world with the largest prison population. As a result mass incarceration is a major epidemic, with crushing consequences. Women and girls are being warehoused in prisons, destroying families, and costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. It is a sobering situation considering they are released from prison without getting any form of rehabilitation to address the underlying issues that caused their offense. The statistics are well known, but the true faces of women and girls imprisoned, and the injustice they encounter in the U.S. Judicial system is less publicized.
America is at a tipping point! The crisis of over criminalization and excessive reliance on punitive enforcement feed the problem of mass incarceration. In a time of deep political and ideological divides, the fight for justice is more urgent than ever. It is time to remove the veil and uncover the structural inequality women and girls face at the hands of a system that disenfranchised and dehumanized them. They are dehumanized as such that at the moment of conviction they are made to feel less valuable. Shackled and, draped with chains, women and girls are shipped off to a penitentiary where they are placed in cells, assigned a bunk bed stained with blood of previous generational miscarriage of injustice.
A Beautiful HEART Ministries supports the growing momentum to bring about meaningful criminal justice reform and look forward to working hard to bring forth changes within the criminal justice system.
With Love and Gratitude,
Clover A. Perez, Executive Director