Jenna Sherman


Center of Excellence:

JIWC-specific areas of expertise: Infant health outcomes among infants born to incarcerated women, wellbeing of their caregivers and mothers upon release, reproductive justice, obstetric violence and abuse of justice-involved women, the adverse outcomes of using technologies to monitor justice-involved women and children, doula and midwife access among justice-involved women

Funding details: Rose Service Learning Fellow Scholarship from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

What makes you passionate about this work?

“Hailing from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I’ve seen firsthand how a single identity can determine the level of healthcare that you are provided; how racism, systemic injustice, and poverty have exacerbated adverse maternal health outcomes — particularly among African American women who continue to be marginalized in the age of mass incarceration; and how cycles of trauma and injustice are determinant of one’s health before they are even born.”

What community-engaged JIWC work are you currently doing?

“The current main JIWC work I’m involved in is an ongoing study “Birth Beyond Bars: Assessing Caregiver and Infant Needs.” The overarching goal of the study is to gain a better understanding of the context in which the caregivers of the babies of incarcerated women are operating and what challenges they face across health, finances, and housing, and how those variables impact the infants. The second main JIWC work I’m involved in is serving as a hotline counselor for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center’s Incarcerated Survivors Support program to help counsel and provide resources to incarcerated survivors who are in crisis.”

What research-practice collaborations are you the most excited to work on?

“I would love to continue partnerships with local NGOs such as Motherhood Beyond Bars (particularly if there are longer-term goals of abolition); additionally, it would be great if we could extend our studies to include women who are in jail or on probation. I’m also highly interested in possibly gaining doula certification or attending nursing school, and therefore would be excited to work with groups of doulas, midwives, or nurse-midwives who work in carceral contexts. Finally, I’m highly interested in working with organizations who focus on sexual assault prevention and healing in carceral contexts.”