ARCH has hosted interns from Notre Dame for the last few years. They never fail to impress us with their initiative and depth of empathy. This summer is no different.
My experience with ARCH helped me broaden my understanding of the criminal justice system and the people involved. I had little knowledge about the issues surrounding criminal justice when I began my internship, but this experience really introduced me to the challenges returning citizens face when re-entering society. Before beginning my internship I was slightly nervous about interacting with the returning citizens and I didn’t know what to expect. But throughout my experience, I met some of the most wonderful and friendly people, and I learned a lot from each person I encountered. What I found most surprising was how positive everyone’s attitudes were and how driven everyone was to work towards a better future for themselves and other returning citizens.
This summer, the Notre Dame interns worked with ARCH and Horizon Prison Initiative to facilitate a book study of Richard Rohr's "Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps."
My work with ARCH led me to discover glaring gender inequities in Ohio’s correctional facilities. Incarcerated individuals who menstruate (mostly women) currently lack free and unlimited access to period products, which are essential for proper hygiene and well-being. Ohio’s jails and prisons are unfortunately a reflection of a society that does not prioritize the unique needs of women; this issue is compounded by the fact that incarcerated women are especially vulnerable and often silenced. ARCH’s passionate advocacy for female restored citizens gives me hope for the future of Ohio’s incarcerated women. These women deserve our collective attention, and ARCH is beginning a local conversation about the civil rights of inmates that I believe will one day belong to an important national dialogue.