#MomsAgainstTorture is a movement led by Gina Burns, Cheryl Canson and other mothers of vulnerable Californians who were incarcerated even though they were not restored to competence after being deemed incompetent to stand trial. In this conversation, they share the purpose and aims of their movement.
Amanda Nguyen: How did you get started in this work?
Gina Burns and Cheryl Canson: As a matter of survival. The impacted Black and Indigenous moms who founded #MomsAgainstTorture have been fighting to protect their families and communities for years. There has been no justice for us in the criminal legal system, which has been all too happy to torture our loved ones for profit instead of providing them treatment.
Imagine being a California parent or guardian of a child with a severe mental illness. Imagine the fear you would experience knowing your child is exponentially more likely to be abused or killed by law enforcement and the criminal legal system. Now imagine the trauma of watching your worst fears happen over and over again to your child and being powerless to stop it.
What do you do as a parent when that happens? You do what any parent would do - you fight for your children. We may not have power in the courts, but we do have power together, as voters, community organizers and now the authors of legislation.
Nguyen: What do you want to be true for your community?
Burns and Canson: We want all people to be treated by the legal system as full human beings with inalienable human rights. We want mental health treatment to be more accessible. We want individuals with mental illnesses to receive adequate treatment. We are calling on California lawmakers to pass AB 1630, the Vulnerable Defendant’s Right to a Fair Trial.
To read more of Amanda Nguyen's article, please click here.
To sign the Change.org petition, click here, change.org/momsagainsttorture