ReFraming Justice: Tuesday Brauer Shares Her Experience at #cut50’s Day of Empathy

by Joe Watson

#cut50, a national initiative to simultaneously make our communities safer and cut the prison population in half, held its annual Day of Empathy on March 5 with events across the country.

In Arizona, supporters of the initiative – including Reinventing Reentry, From Gangs to Jobs, Televerde, Gold Canyon Heart & Home, Arouet Foundation, and FAMM – gathered at the state capitol in Phoenix to advocate for increased re-entry resources and the passage of SB 1437, which would effectively “ban the box” on job applications.

AFSC-AZ was represented at the Day of Empathy by Tuesday Brauer, a directly-impacted leader of our ReFraming Justice Project. Tuesday reflected on the impact of the event and shared on her own re-entry experience with AFSC-AZ.

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What did you hope to achieve at the Day of Empathy?

TB: My objective was to inform and educate. People need to know how hard we – formerly incarcerated people – work; how capable we are and why we need to be employed and have a job. That sort of advocacy can be powerful – lifting up capable people both behind bars and once they get out. These are human beings who need hope. These are people we need to be embracing because, without a job, they’ll lose hope.

How hard was it for you to find a job after incarceration?

TB: I filled out 100 applications before I got my first job cleaning rooms at a hotel. So, I know what it’s like to feel defeated. But I was lucky. At the end of the day, I was staying with my brother and I got to go to a loving home environment. I had the support of my family. I couldn’t imagine living in a halfway house and having a deadline to find a job. The pressure of that creates so much anxiety just thinking about it. If I hadn’t had that family support, I probably would’ve ended up back inside.

How has participating in the legislative process and attending events like the Day of Empathy impacted your life as a directly impacted person?

TB: Every time I go to the Capitol, there’s this overwhelming feeling of empowerment. It gives me so much hope for the future. When I was incarcerated, I’d never heard of anything like this – about formerly incarcerated people making their voices heard and advocating for legislation. Knowing that I can help – knowing that I’m giving hope to incarcerated women on the inside – is such a wonderful feeling.

For more information or to participate in our ReFraming Justice Project, contact Grace Gámez, Ph.D, AFSC-AZ Program Coordinator.

1 Comment

  1. This needs to happen annually. A Day of Empathy. Years ago my grandfather hired a former inmate to work in his auto body shop in Los Angeles. That man turned out to be the best employee my grandfather ever hired. You never know what abilities you may find in someone unless you give them a chance by opening your heart, mind and soul.

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