Announcing our Incarcerated Survivors Project

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to be able to share that Ascend Justice is launching a program to provide civil legal services to incarcerated survivors of gender-based violence. We will be partnering with The Women’s Justice Institute, with support from the Polk Bros. Foundation, to design and deliver a holistic civil legal services program for incarcerated survivors of gender-based violence.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of incarcerated women have experienced physical abuse at some point in their lives and a 2019 study by the University of Chicago of mothers at Logan Correctional Center found that 48% of them were experiencing abuse from a partner or their children’s father even during incarceration. Recently, two women at Cook County Jail expressed that they were scared to be released from jail unless they first received orders of protection against their respective abusers. Unfortunately, there is currently no assistance whatsoever for obtaining orders of protection while incarcerated in jail or prison. Incarcerated survivors also risk having access to their children denied by an abusive partner, having parental rights wrongfully terminated, or losing public benefits.  
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, gender-based violence has increased against women and the challenges among incarcerated women have only intensified as efforts to prevent the spread have resulted in widespread lockdowns, elimination of visits with children and families, and disruptions in communication to help women stay connected to support systems. 
Ascend Justice, along with our partners at the Women’s Justice Institute, will work to develop services that keep incarcerated women safer, more connected to their families, and more supported as they re-enter the community. I’m looking forward to sharing more information as these services develop over in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.


Margaret R. Duval
Executive Director
Ascend Justice