Connecticut Sun forward featured on roundtable to discuss the threat of COVID-19 to incarcerated communities
On May 5 Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner joined Bryan Stevenson, Caron Butler and Lloyd Pierce on the NBA’s Twitter account to discuss the threat of COVID-19 to incarcerated communities.
This issue hits close to home for the Sun’s head coach and general manager Curt Miller.
While still a part of the Phoenix Mercury, Bonner visited Estrella Jail in Phoenix, a women’s-only facility. She found that many of these women had had babies recently, within just a few weeks of her meeting them.
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Bonner went to listen to their story and while doing that she found that many of them just needed a second chance, so she went in to get a clear view of what was needed.
“They were talking about how you know when they get out, they needed help to the next step. They didn’t know how to the next page or housing, they were worried about getting jobs,” Bonner said.
She later added, “I talked with my director to see how can I get these women jobs and we got with a whole group of teams and you know trying to see any kind of way that we can get some job interviews, programs that they can go to, little things like you know haircuts. As far as you know showers, shower gel. Anything I can do is, that’s what I wanted to do so.”
Overall, she said that she just wanted to be able to give these women a second opportunity.
Bonner felt emotionally bonded to these women because she knows how much having a child changes your life.
“These moms didn’t get the opportunity to even, you know, do that, they didn’t get the opportunity to you know be better for their kids,” she said.
She noted that many of the women she spoke to only got to hold their newborn for 48 hours before they were taken away.
“They didn’t get the chance to nurture them, you know, sometimes it’s just, you know, no offense to you guys but baby needs Mom, it’s just something that is just, you know, the nurturing the care and the softer side of it so it was just pretty sad to see,” Bonner said.
One topic that came up during the roundtable was the conditions in prisons and jails that lead to the incarcerated populations being more at risk for contracting COVID-19. Among the topics discussed were the sleeping conditions.
Bonner made a special note that the jail she visited had dorm-like sleeping quarters with three women per bunk and the top tiers of the bunks were close to the ceiling. She also said that there were women laying on the floor or in chairs.
She emphasized that these conditions weren’t even in a prison, but rather in a jail, one in Phoenix.
Bonner said that the first step to learning is to experience something for a couple of hours, exactly what she did when she visited Estrella Jail.
She didn’t tell any of her teammates where she was going on that particular appearance, but afterward many of them wanted to go with her the next time she visited.
“That was the most, you know, touching experience for me because I’m like, this is what we needed. Maybe just one person just going, taking that step forward to understand it,” she said.
She hopes to continue her work during her time in Connecticut and hopes that her former teammates continue what she started in Phoenix.
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