Little Rock – The ACLU of Arkansas will celebrate Dee Ann Newell, a counselor and advocate for incarcerated women and their families, during their Rights of Spring Award celebration in Little Rock on Tuesday, May 1. The annual event recognizes people who have been at the forefront of advancing justice and equality in Arkansas. More information about the event is available at www.acluarkansas.org.
“Dee Ann’s selfless service defending the rights of vulnerable Arkansans is what our work is all about,” said Rita Sklar, ACLU Arkansas Executive Director. “Her steadfast advocacy on behalf incarcerated women and their families has made a lasting and profoundly positive impact on thousands of Arkansans. We are proud to bestow her with our highest honor of Civil Libertarian of the Year.”
The Civil Libertarian of the Year award is given to an Arkansan who displays an unwavering commitment to protecting civil liberties within the state.
Newell is the Executive Director and Founder of Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, the only statewide organization dedicated to serving the growing number of incarcerated mothers and their children. Since 1994, this organization, which works with families from pre-entry through post-release and beyond, has helped provide mentoring and support to more than 38,000 vulnerable children in Arkansas.
A champion for the rights of incarcerated women and their families, Newell worked with the ACLU of Arkansas to challenge the inhumane practice of shackling pregnant inmates while in labor. The case, Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services, resulted in a ruling by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reaffirmed that pregnant women in prison do not lose their right to safe and humane treatment.
Prior to founding Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, Newell worked as a counselor with the New York State Counseling Agency. She has also worked as a Psychological Examiner with the Georgia Mental Health Institute and the Georgia Department of Education. She has worked with the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and previously served as headmistress at Little Anthony School. Newell has been a jail instructor, and Principal Investigator and Program Director with Parenting from Prison.
In 2013, Newell was named a Champion of Change by the Obama Administration for work on behalf of Children of Prisoners and their Families. In 2012, she was chosen as the sole representative from the U.S. to the UN Geneva Convention on the Rights of the Child: Discussion Day for Children of Prisoners. She has been honored with social justice awards from Arkansans for Drug Free Youth, The Women’s Project and Second Genesis Ministries to Incarcerated Women. Newell has received the PASS Documentary Film Award, a Houston International Film Festival Documentary Award 2002, and a Regional Emmy Nomination for the documentary Mothers in Prison, Children in Crisis.
A native of Little Rock, Newell attended college in New York City at Finch College and obtained a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University.