“I decided that I’m going to do everything that I can to be the best because one day I will come home to be a force to reckon with.” Worldwide Prison Reform Advocate & Activist -Sharon White-Harrigan

Advocate and worldwide Prison Reform Activist Sharon White-Harrigan after serving more than a decade in prison for defending herself against a rapist, is now giving back as an activist for prison reform and  providing services to help women prisoners’ transition back to civilian life. She is the Clinical Director of WPA’s transitional shelter for women, “Hopper Home” and has worked in the criminal justice, domestic violence, mental health, and substance abuse fields. Sharon in addition is also an alumnae of Reconnect; an advocacy group for women as well as WPA’s “Women’s Advocacy Project”.

For everything that Sharon represents today she had to fight for, from becoming a single mum at the age of 16 after her fiancée’s death to escaping a violent marriage, Sharon also ended up 10 years in prison after another man tried to rape her. “I fought for my life.” She stabbed him in self-defense, and he died. White-Harrigan turned herself to the authorities with a case of self-defense. But was sentenced to 9 to 18 years at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York. “When I got there, I realized that the majority of the women were there because of a man.” “It was about the color of my skin. They only cared about locking up this black girl for defending herself”.

In 1994, Harrigan-White went into prison angry, but came out an activist. “I decided that I’m going to do everything that I can to be the best that I can be because one day I will come home. And when I do, I’m going to be a force to reckon with.” Through a Women’s Prison Association program, White-Harrigan earned her associate’s degree during her sentence and went on to earn a master’s degree in clinical social work after she was released in 2004.

Today, Sharon sits on the advisory board for The Women’s Building under the NoVo Foundation.  She is involved with various other organizations such as the Women and Justice Project (WJP), College and Community Fellowship, College Initiative, Fortune Society, Correctional Association, and more. For someone who faced challenges early, it won’t be wrong to say that Sharon is a beacon of strength for turning her experiences into a source of motivation nationwide as she soon became an advocate and activist to make sure that the women coming home get the help and support they need,” she says. “The women coming home, we’re a sisterhood.”

Sharon holds an Associate’s in Arts; a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York where she was a Thomas W. Smith Fellow; and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College.  She was licensed in 2015. She has been featured in the New York Times and the Daily News.

Culled from Apaonline & Makers.com

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