WJI Press Release


Chicago, IL (December 4, 2017) On Monday, December 4, 2017, A Safe Haven Foundation’s flagship location at 2750 West Roosevelt Road served as host site for the Women’s Justice Initiative (WJI) panel discussion on the HB 3904.  WJI Director, Deanne Benos engaged more than 50 key stakeholders to celebrate the passage of the Women’s Correctional Services Act (WCA) HB3904. The WCA Act (HB3904) establishes the most comprehensive standards for a women’s prison/parole system in the nation by mandating across-the-board gender responsive, trauma-informed and family-centered policies, practices, procedures and programs designed to promote decarceration, safety and improved incomes.

“This is a great victory for justice involved women across Illinois, and I am grateful to the Sponsor(s) and to all of the legislators who prioritized this urgent issue and worked in a bi-partisan manner to champion and upport this Bill and to the Governor for his leadership in signing this important legislation into law,” stated Neli Vazquez Rowland.

“On behalf of the Women’s Justice Initiative and our national, state, and local stakeholder network, we commend Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Chief Sponsor, Illinois State Representative Juliana Stratton for working with us to make the WCA a reality; and the timeliness of the announcement in the midst of the ‘Me Too’ movement couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time,” said WJI Director, Deanne Benos.

In attendance were co-founder and president of A Safe Haven, Neli Vazquez Rowland and Co-Founder Brian Rowland, who addressed the panel and attendees on the impact and importance of the newly signed legislation.  Dignitaries and elected officials in attendance included: Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) Director John Baldwin and IDOC Assistant Director Gladyse Taylor; Illinois State Representative Juliana Stratton; Margaret Burke, Warden at Logan Women’s Correctional Center; Assistant Warden, Beatrice Calhoun; Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s Chief of Staff Rodger Heaton; Shelith Hansbro, Warden at the Decatur Correctional Center and Angel Wilson, Assistant Warden at Decatur Correctional Center.  In addition to the aforementioned, attendees included Alyssa Benedict, federal partner of the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women (NRCJIW), and a team of formerly incarcerated women and advocates, corrections staff, academics and social service providers who joined forces to launch implementation work on the WCA.