UH ARC Fellows work to help formerly incarcerated women in Houston
Two UH Action Research in Communities Fellows are bringing awareness to the problems that previously incarcerated women face in the Houston area.
Fellows Nabeela Siddeeque and Sondos Moursy researched female mass incarceration and the barriers that previously incarcerated women face when re-entering society. The Fellows found a severe lack of resources available to these women and are now working with Angela House, Houston’s only female reentry center, to help make their reentry into society a less stressful endeavor.
Siddeeque and Moursy received a grant from the ARC program to implement an action plan that would combat the issues expressed in their research. The two fellows used the grant to establish a weekly creative arts program for the women in Angela House. This would help to lessen the stresses that the women face from the hardships of reentering society.
“We’re trying to bring in self-care aspects, little things like that, to help them not be as stressed out and develop some better mental health practices and self-care practices,” Siddeeque said. “That may sound non-significant but they do a lot, if you don’t have a therapist or if you don’t have medication by your side.”
After completing her research, Moursy presented her findings to the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities.
“Telling these women’s stories at the policy making table is a promising step towards local change,” Moursy said.
Due to the research conducted by Siddeeque and Moursy and because of their efforts in Angela House, the city of Houston has taken notice of this issue.
“Incarcerated women and the communities with high rates of incarceration-induced poverty, are now being included in conversations concerning workforce and economic development in decision-making spheres like the Mayor’s Office and Harris County District Attorney’s Office,” Moursy said.
Siddeeque and Moursy joined the action research program in an effort to utilize data to bring about social justice.
“There isn’t a single conclusive data source in Texas that collects or reports data on the women incarcerated,” Moursy said. “This means we have no way of tracking who comes in and out of the system, and what happens to them while they are there. That was equally frustrating as it was terrifying.”
Moursy says that she and Siddeeque are now in the process of expanding the weekly program at Angela house.
“Now that we’ve worked closely with the women at Angela house and have become familiar with their needs, we have applied for funding to establish this program as an ongoing initiative that continues to grow even after we graduate,” Moursy said.