Bayview Correctional Facility was once a very dangerous women’s prison in New York. Records show that it once had the highest number of staff sexual assaults in the country.
Now that it’s been closed, the building is going to be used as a safe haven for women’s a girl’s rights organizers, some of which were once inhabitants of the prison.
The Huffington Post reports that the NoVo Foundation, a not-for-profit group run by Warren Buffett’s son and daughter-in-law, gained the rights to the property in 2015. A new project hopes to revitalize and rebrand the property as “The Women’s Building” and offer organizers from across the world a place to settle down and continue their work.
“The Women’s Building is dedicated to liberation, equality, and justice for all girls and all women, so formerly incarcerated women would have a central role to play, no matter where it was built,” said Pamela Shifman, executive director of NoVo. “But the fact that The Women’s Building will rise from the walls of the former Bayview prison means that their perspectives and voices are even more fundamental to ensuring that the mission and potential of this building is fully realized.”
Including women who served time in Bayview was a very important part of the process. It symbolizes the reclaiming of both the property and the lives of the women who had to live under harsh, unsafe conditions when they filled it.
“We wanted to acknowledge the brutality that these women suffered every day, and to honor their resilience and strength,” said Miyhosi Benton, an associate at Women & Justice Project.
As the process to give the building a new purpose proceed, many women who were inmates there have returned, many for the first time, to freely walk around as they please and prepare for the demolition project.