Sarah Nawab

  • Hosted by Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts
  • Sponsored by Choate Hall & Stewart, General Electric Company
  • Service location Boston, Massachusetts
  • Law school Northeastern University School of Law
  • Issue area Prisoners' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Sarah advocated on behalf of incarcerated women in Massachusetts and served their unique legal needs through trauma-informed representation, rights education, and increasing public awareness through a report and media campaign.

Because incarceration has traditionally been framed as a men’s issue, the unique challenges women face while in custody were erased and their needs remained unmet. Acknowledging how incarceration affected women, specifically, was critical to advocating for those needs. An overwhelming majority of incarcerated women have experienced sexual violence, which is then compounded by their experiences in custody. Women are also more likely to be primary caregivers and have distinct medical needs.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Sarah:

  • Published a 50-page report detailing the experiences of both cis and trans incarcerated women throughout Massachusetts and made recommendations to address their unique needs.
  • Executed a media campaign in partnership with grassroots community organizers to publicize the report and recommendations.
  • Provided advocacy, brief advice, and referrals on over 50 matters for incarcerated women, both cis and trans.
  • Partnered with grassroots community organizers to advocate, through written and oral testimony, for the passage of a prison and jail construction moratorium bill in the state legislature.

Next Steps

Sarah will continue to lead the Women’s Incarceration Conditions and Reentry Project at Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts. She will use the report she wrote during her Equal Justice Works Fellowship to advocate for and leverage policy changes to benefit incarcerated women in Massachusetts.


New Report Highlights Sexual Misconduct by Staff in Massachusetts Prisons

Report Details Women’s Accounts of Sexual Misconduct by Staff in Massachusetts Prisons and Jails

Women in Massachusetts Prisons Targets of Sexual, Mental Abuse: Study

A Different Way Forward: Stories from Incarcerated Women in Massachusetts and Recommendations

Massachusetts Organizers Call for No New Women’s Prisons and an End to Their Construction

PLS Considers a Different Way Forward for Women’s Prisons

Fostering a More Just Society

Bor-Zale, Nawab and Warren Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

My life experiences taught me the value of empathy, and it is empathy that is at the heart of trauma-informed representation.

Sarah Nawab /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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