“Lioness: Justice Impacted Women’s Alliance (JIWA) is a nonprofit program sponsored by Build Up, Inc., a 501(c)3 public charity.”


Lioness: Justice Impacted Women’s Alliance is an organization led by currently and formerly incarcerated girls and women in Texas with the purpose of ending the incarceration and systematic devaluing we experience within the Texas criminal legal system.


We envision a society where we, as well as all gender expansive people, are spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically free from all forms of violence and harm in the criminal legal system. Our vision can be achieved through radical advocacy, leadership development, community building, grassroot organizing and civic engagement.


We believe that lived experience is the guiding force to change.

We believe in honoring each other’s differences while striving to bring one unified voice of currently and formerly incarcerated girls, women and gender expansive people in Texas into all spaces.

We believe that jails and prisons by nature perpetuate harm and violence.

Our History

It all began over 10 years ago at the Mountain View unit in Gatesville, Texas. When hopes for the future seemed the bleakest, several of us found a spark of inspiration one afternoon in the dayroom. We dared to ask each other, “Do you think it's possible that we could get out of here and become a force to be reckoned with? Could we become the voice for the women we leave behind?” Those questions began a fledgling sense of empowerment. What we didn't know was that there were women on other units, who were also having these same longings for collective power.

Fast forward to 2022!
After release many of us found our way into social justice spaces, but we felt disconnected. We struggled to be heard. The sense of community that had helped us survive prison, that we experienced on the rec yards, cellblocks and dorms was missing. But Melissa Lucio changed everything.

When Melissa was scheduled for execution we saw a lack of urgency and even some judgemental attitudes regarding her case from other criminal justice advocates. This infuriated us. We began to organize and protest. Our relentless efforts would play a role in saving Melissa's life. And from there something else extraordinary happened. We had figured out how to bring community from behind the walls and continue it beyond them. We had found our collective power to refuse to be defined, limited or silenced by anyone, ever again. From that moment, Lioness Justice Impacted Women's Alliance was born.

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