The Spitfire Speaker’s Bureau is anchored by formerly incarcerated women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people who educate the general public about the realities of life inside prison and the challenges of reentry. Through Spitfire, formerly incarcerated people have the opportunity to develop their leadership and at the same time receive financial stipends for their vital educational work.
The realities of incarceration are largely unknown and grossly misrepresented in the corporate media. Labels such as ‘felon’, ‘convict’ or ‘criminal’ carry a demonizing stigma that condones and fosters institutionalized racism and the dehumanizing treatment of imprisoned people. The specific experiences of people in women’s prisons are even more invisible than those in men’s prisons.
Spitfire speakers talk about the ways in which that stigma continues upon their release when they are denied the resources needed to rebuild their lives. Formerly incarcerated people face enormous survival challenges and are often unable to obtain employment, childcare, housing, education, and healthcare. Reuniting with children and other loved ones is extremely difficult.
By sharing the truth of their experience, members of the Spitfire Speakers Bureau have the ability to touch the hearts and minds of many people and involve them in campaigns for systemic change.