This Organization Refuses To Let Formerly Incarcerated Black Women Go Unsupported

person using black and silver laptop computer
Zain Murdock
January 29, 2024

In March 2018, Bridgette Simpson was released after a decade in prison. Getting back on her feet was difficult, working at a chicken processing plant, living out of her car, and facing constant rejection for apartments and better-paying jobs. Her experience wasn’t uncommon. Formerly incarcerated Black women have a 43% unemployment rate

Simpson felt the psychological and emotional toll. Things weren’t looking up.

She finally accepted a new job that could meet her needs, and that gave her an opportunity to advocate for other incarcerated people. 

And in 2020, Simpson and a friend, Denise Ruben, founded Barred Business, an Atlanta-based organization offering housing, funding, and training.

When formerly incarcerated people were excluded from 2020’s Paycheck Protection Program, Simpson and Ruben raised over $100,000 in grants. 

They launched a 12-month program for 50 formerly incarcerated Black women, also providing mentorship and assistance with GED completion and college enrollment.

By 2024, the organization was fighting for legal protections for formerly incarcerated people and donating personal hygiene supplies to incarcerated women. As a former recipient of these necessities, Simpson knows how much they mean.

The support isn’t carceral or conditional. While incarcerated people continue to be exploited and dehumanized, spaces like Barred Business practice a future of liberating community love, empathy, and care. 

And as we continue to build that future, formerly incarcerated community members like Bridgette Simpson will lead the way.

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