Tamerra Washington’s family members were among hundreds attending a historic “Rally/Protest for the Wrongfully Convicted” held June 4, 2021, at the Frank Murphy courthouse and jail in downtown Detroit. It was sponsored by “Operation Liberation,” founded by Thelonious ‘Shawn’ Searcy and Darrell ‘Apple’ Ewing and their families. Searcy was fully exonerated after 19 years in October; Ewing, also wrongfully convicted, continues his battle at the Wayne Co. Jail Division.
“Women–Black women–are the fastest growing population in MDOC, housed only at Huron Valley under horrible conditions.” –Nicholas Buckingham, Michigan Liberation, at June 4 rally
By Tamerra Washington, VOD Reporter/Columnist
Womens’ Huron Valley 486364
December 15, 2022
Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility has housed and released many exemplary women who are steadfast, refusing to be defined by their worst choice in life. Nation Outside now sponsors Valley Girls which is a sisterhood linking previously incarcerated women in MDOC to events and gatherings.
Nation Outside sponsored a 2022 Gala at the historical Masonic Temple in Detroit. Acknowledgements and awards were given. Glen Martin was the keynote speaker and the movement hosted by Lawanda Hollister, long time Valley Girl. She received a MVP award. That award confirmed her progress from serving 34 years in prison and successfully completing parole, to becoming a pillar in the returning citizen community,
Lawanda has had a hand in the reentry process for many organizations.
” The only way to go forward is to go together.”
- Advocating at Avalon Housing to end homelessness.
- Legislating for freedom and the importance of a Second Look.
- Voting Access for All Coalition, V.A.A.C, beating the streets so returning citizens know that they have a right to vote.
- She’s one of the first participants selected in Eastern Michigan University returning citizen fellowship program.
- Doing pop up appearances with The Chow Hall prison cook-up food service.
For over three years I witnessed Lawanda doing business plans and making vivid goals for her release. She was paroled at the beginning of a pandemic in 2020. There, passion to make a difference within the reentry process ignited in her. None of the many plans held up to the shutdown of Covid 19. Blessed to parole to a stranger, a friend of a friend, the need for her own space was eminent.
Can you imagine filling out an application for housing and a job with no information beyond your name and D.O.B? No life history, being incarcerated since the age of 17, released at 51. There were no cell phones when she went in, never driven a car. The reintegration was challenging. With the tenacity of a Valley Girl, Lawanda continued to reach. Humble beginnings, she worked for a farm, cultivating new ground. Accepted to a returning citizen apartment home in Ypsilanti. Attracting a variety of forces that propelled her forward. Creating a reentry family that’s invested in her success.
American Friends Service Committee, Brighter Way, Youth Justice Fund, Safe and Just Mi, Reentry United, Mi Liberation, Nation Outside and her LOL’s all rallied around her with forward motion.
According to Lawanda, “Prison holds two options, either you die there or you get out. Getting out we need to move forward with tools for success and education, or the result is failure.” For the returning citizen community the pressure is heightened to step out in front of failure; unfortunately the failure of one reflects all. Her hope is to accomplish more opportunities and doors opening for the whole community like never before.
From her position at AFSC she had the experience of reintegrating one of the Valley Girls. Being the face a sister Valley Girl sees upon crossing the threshold of captivity is “very rewarding”. Lawanda wants only the best and success for everyone.
The month of October 2022 WHV received 21 GED completions. The most obtained in MDOC statewide prison systems.
Stay tuned to The Voice Of Detroit for more successful highlights of the exceptional Women of Huron Valley.
Tamerra Washington 486364
Hello, I am Tamerra Washington #486364. WRONGFULLY CONVICTED. Temporarily housed at WHV 3201 Bemis Road. Ypsilanti, Mi 48197. In 2011 Sentenced 32-50 years in prison for Armed Robbery and 32-50 years for Assault, crimes I did not commit. I enjoy seeking Truth, higher learning, and reading books. I love Conscious conversations and uplifting my mind.