I met her. Now it’s your turn!
One would have thought we were old friends. Susan Burton walked into the room, gave me a hug, and we sat down and started talking like we had known each other for years! Actually, we were meeting each other for the first time.
Susan Burton co-authored an amazing book titled Becoming Ms. Burton, From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women. She’s in town to deliver a public address in the auditorium of Grand Haven’s Lakeshore Middle School tomorrow or today, depending on when you're reading this. Thursday, the 13th.
Matt and I had the opportunity to record a podcast with Susan. And, the HFP team had an opportunity to socialize with her over an informal dinner. Now it's your turn, and I hope you take advantage of this opportunity.
It’s estimated that 85% of locked-up women were, at some time, physically or mentally abused…or both. Here in Michigan, as in every other state, disproportionately these women are Black and poor. Says Susan: “I was born and raised in those statistics.” The amazing thing is that, after battling substance addiction and after spending time in prison on 6 different occasions, she is making a difference! Her life is now devoted to stopping this cycle.
Not long after you begin reading her book, you arrive at this paragraph:
So I keep asking questions. Why are Black Americans incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites? Why are prison sentences for African Americans disproportionately higher? Once released, why do people faced a lifetime of discriminatory policies and practices that smother any chance of a better life?
She has not only been sober for the past 25 years…she’s busy! Her movement, A New Way of Life, which provides housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women, is spreading across the country!
And for the record, it’s not just women who struggle upon reentering the free world. The American Bar Association, Susan Burton claims, has documented 48,000 legal sanctions and restrictions imposed on people with criminal records. To our shame, these people get denied access to employment, student loans, housing, public assistance, custody of children…and sometimes the right to vote. Some are even denied the right to visit loved ones in prison.
It's important that you hear Susan Burton’s story. You’ll love her determined spirit.
Thursday, 7 PM…live at Lakeshore Middle School, or livestream