Women's Stories of Prison: Carmen’s Story: One Woman’s Fight to Expose the Oppressive Infrastructure of Criminal Justice
On February 3, 2021 IAHR kicked off its 2021 edition of its Reimagining Criminal Justice series by having an in depth interview with Dr. Carmen Johnson. In 2015, Dr. Carmen Johnson was convicted of 24 counts of mortgage, bank, and wire fraud. Dr. Johnson served 44 months in West Virginia Federal Prison Work Camp. She was released in 2018 and is now serving 5 years’ probation and paying 2 million dollars in restitution payments.
Carmen now suffers from extreme PTSD with daily nightmares of the raids, trial, and prison. But she is still trying to endure by continuing to fight for herself and others by working with grass-roots organizations on mentorship, the injustice system, and police brutality. Carmen’s family has assisted her by starting a new non-profit called “Helping Ourselves To Transform” which deals with the needs of returning citizens, educating the public on mass incarceration, and the injustice going through the legal system. Carmen contends that she was a victim and is vehemently innocent of all the charges she was convicted of.
Interview with Helenia Bragg
This month we feature an interview with Helenia Bragg who is a returning citizen.
Helenia Bragg, was born in Alexandria, Va. She is a returning citizen and a recovering addict. Helenia was released from Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Virginia in 2017 after serving eleven years. While incarcerated, Helenia received an Associate degree. To prepare for her reentry, Helenia also received certifications in HVAC, Building maintenance, Printing, and Industrial Sewing. Even with these certifications, Helenia had a hard time getting a job, so she went back to college. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 2019 in Social Work. Today Helenia works as a Peer recovery specialist. Helenia is also in the process of starting a nonprofit for female returning citizens. The name is S.H.E. (Seeking Higher Education) solution. S.H.E.’s mission is to connect female returning citizens, who have prepared for release by obtaining a vocational trade. Helenia’s vision includes connecting returning women with companies that will give them a career opportunity, not a job.
Gay Gardner, IAHR’s Special Advisor on Virginia, is the interviewer.
Watch the Interview below now!