The existing re-entry program within the Indiana Department of Corrections (Indiana Women’s Prison and Madison Correctional Facility) falls far short in preparing incarcerated women for transitioning back into the free world, and even less assistance once released.
Fellows Kristina Byers, Christina Kovats, and Michelle Jones are partnering with the Indiana Public Defenders Council and several graduate students from New York University to solve a major problem for formerly incarcerated people. This population typically exists in a siloed environment wherein information about resources and opportunity are discovered in fragments, usually by word of mouth. The team plans to create a digital resource guide that will immediately empower the target population to have the information they need at their fingertips to improve overall reentry outcomes. The Fellows, recently released and rich with lived experience, understand first-hand what is needed.
The Team Indianapolis Fellows—replete with lived experience—recently launched the Code for Indianapolis Brigade. During their Fellowship, they will perform user-centered design to research and prototype resources to help post-incarcerated women to successfully transition back into society.
Christina Kovats is Director of Development and a founding member of Constructing Our Future, a re-entry program conceived and led by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. She has a passion for this vulnerable population and continues to advocate for them. A main goal of the COF team is to enlighten policymakers about issues affecting that community. Christina and other COF members developed a presence at the 2019 Indiana legislative session where they worked on numerous bills, including one that they helped draft that would end automatic termination of parental rights for parents in prison.
Kristina Byers is Director of Operations at Constructing Our Future, a reentry program she helped found at the Indiana Women’s Prison. Kristina is passionate in her work, bridging the gap between government and the most vulnerable people in the community. Through her advocacy at the legislature and fostering relationships with community leaders, she aims to give every person, even the most marginalized, a seat at the table. Her latest endeavor is to jumpstart Code for Indianapolis to help create a portable digital resource guide to assist formerly incarcerated people transition back into the community
Michelle Jones is a second-year doctoral student in American Studies at New York University. Formerly incarcerated, she is passionate about helping others like herself successfully create their best lives. She is the board chair of Constructing Our Future, a reentry alternative created by incarcerated women in Indiana. Michelle is a 2017-18 Beyond the Bars fellow, a 2017-18 Research Fellow at Harvard University, and a 2018-19 Bearing Witness Fellow with Art for Justice, 2019 Right of Return Fellow and a 2019-20 Mural Arts Fellow. Michelle is a playwright, visual and performance artist.
The Code for America Community Fellowship
Code for America’s Community Fellowship pairs local talent from our Brigade Network with city governments to improve services for vulnerable people they serve.
It bridges the talent gap in the tech and public service sectors by giving government staff the experience of working with technologists, and technologists the experience of working in government jobs.
The Fellowship ultimately strengthens the relationship between local Network leaders and their governments—to create conditions where change can “stick” and help transform government from the inside out.