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Justice Involved Victim/Survivor Series

Beginning in October 2021, Violence Free Minnesota kicked off a yearlong series about Justice Involved Victim/Survivor Series 

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Belly of the Beast Film Screening & Discussion

Presenters: Kelli Dillon, Marissa Alexander

Facilitator: Kenosha Davenport

OCTOBER 27, 2021


The film exposes a series of statewide crimes in the California prison system - from inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations - primarily targeting women of color. Captured over 7-years, the film features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.

Impact of Revocation for Technical Violations

on Victim/Survivors

Presenters: Will Cooley, Decarcerate MN; Terry Forliti, Breaking Free

NOVEMBER 29, 2021



Violence Free Minnesota Staff, Will Cooley (Decarcerate MN), and Terry Forliti (Breaking Free) discuss the campaign to end the practice of sending people to jail/prison for probation and parole violations. Bring your questions and come to listen and learn about the impact of revocation on victim/survivors in Minnesota and beyond.

Building Relationships Across the Walls

Presenters: Women's Prison Book Project, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee,

Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop, and Black & Pink Twin Cities

DECEMBER 15, 2021


Violence Free Minnesota staff, and volunteers from Women’s Prison Book Project, Black & Pink Twin Cities, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, and more discuss how to build relationships with individuals who are incarcerated to inform our work to end violence in Minnesota.

When Survivors are Criminalized, Part I

Presenters: National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

JANUARY 27, 2022


Every day, victims of intimate partner violence are arrested and incarcerated, often because their survival strategies are criminalized. Cindene Pezzell and Quetita Cavero from the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women lead this two-part series.

In part 1, participants will learn about how and why survivors are criminalized; the risks they face while navigating the criminal legal system, and their tremendous need for advocacy and support at all stages of their cases.

Unpacking the Power of Prosecutors in SV/DV Situations

Presenters: VERA Institute of Justice

FEBRUARY 23, 2022


Prosecutors wield tremendous power in the criminal legal system and have significant discretion over critical decisions in the life of a case, including charging, bail, plea bargaining, discovery, and sentencing. In recent years, communities across the U.S. have organized to increase prosecutor accountability and draw attention to the prosecutor's office as a “black box,” calling for transparency regarding prosecutorial discretion and how it is employed to contribute to or combat racial disparities as well as better serve survivors’ agency, autonomy, and honor & heed calls for alternative responses. Join this training to learn more about the power of prosecutors and the different decision points they preside over in instances of domestic violence and sexual violence. Examples of questions we will explore include: How do prosecutors make decisions about charging or not charging a case? How do prosecutors make recommendations about recommending someone’s release pre-trial, or requesting bail? And what legal obligations do prosecutors have when working with SV/DV survivors, according to MN state statutes?

Presenters: The Vera Institute is a national non-profit dedicated to fighting incarceration in local communities through data-driven analysis and engagements with system stakeholders. The Vera Institute’s Reshaping Prosecution is an initiative working with reform-minded prosecutors’ offices across the U.S. in implementing three goals: ending mass incarceration, addressing racial disparities, and building prosecutors offices’ accountability and transparency to the communities they serve.

Advocacy Services for Sexual Assault Victims in Jail & Prison

Presenters: Ashley Sturz, MNCASA

March 29, 2022



Join MNCASA as we discuss how the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) can be a tool for community-based advocates who want to provide services for victims/survivors in custody. We will introduce PREA and talk about how advocacy services can be provided to victims/survivors in custody, regardless of when and where they experienced sexual violence.


Ashley Sturz has worked in the anti-sexual violence field in numerous contexts. As the Advocacy Support Specialist at MNCASA, Ashley strives to create space for the amazing anti-sexual violence advocates across Minnesota to learn, connect, and grow.

National technical assistance providers:

When Survivors are Criminalized, Part II:

Defense based Advocacy

Presenters: Cindene Pezzell is the Legal Director at the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women (NCDBW). Quetita Cavero, JD, is the Senior Staff Attorney at the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women.

May 24, 2022


Criminalized survivors are among the most vulnerable victims of intimate partner violence, yet they are often not seen as “real victims” by people in the system - and even by some service providers. This webinar will explore concrete defense-based advocacy strategies that community-based programs can use to help increase safety and justice for survivors who are charged with crimes. This program will also highlight ways to identify and dismantle barriers that can prevent advocates from working with criminalized survivors.

Securing Justice for Criminalized Survivors

Presenters: Kim Dadou Brown; Advocates from Illinois, New York, and Minnesota

June 15, 2022


In 2016 and 2019, Illinois and New York passed legislation designed to remedy overly harsh sentences for domestic abuse victims whose survival resulted in criminal punishment. These groundbreaking bills reflect our society's growing awareness of the role domestic violence plays in offenses committed by many incarcerated survivors. 


Join us for a conversation with advocates from Illinois, New York, and Minnesota, as well as Kim Dadou Brown - a domestic violence survivor who served 17 years in prison for defending herself from her abuser and was instrumental in the passage of New York's Domestic Violence Survivor's Justice Act.

Read Kim Dadou Brown's Story here

Supporting Justice Involved

Victim/Survivors of Domestic Violence

Presenters: Brittany Anderson & Laurissa Wredberg, MN Department of Corrections Victim Services & Restorative Justice Unit

July 26, 2022


This session covered the following:​

  • How to support parents while incarcerated

  • How to support family and caregivers while a parent is incarcerated

  • Supporting them through the legal process

  • Creative approaches to working with an incarcerated person (IP) to address these issues – not a one size approach.

  • When their abuser is also incarcerated and they cannot get updates and no longer have information

  • Learning about healthy relationships and how your trauma influences your behavior toward prison staff, kids, family, coworkers, roommates, etc.

  • Supporting incarcerated people on the new trauma and triggers that happen by being incarcerated

  • Coping with lack of control and new coping mechanisms when previous coping skills no longer work while incarcerated

  • Planning for release while incarcerated: housing, jobs, mental health, healing trauma

  • Utilizing services once released and on supervision

Additional Materials/Resources

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