Formerly incarcerated women urge students to be agents of change

Soto sits behind a microphone at a table during a panel discussion.

First-hand experiences

Carol Soto, who inspired the character "Yoga Janet" and "Yoga Jones" in "Orange is the New Black," spoke with members of #BobcatNation about the state of health care in America’s prisons at two events on our Mount Carmel and North Haven campuses.


hree formerly incarcerated women shared their health care experiences in state and federal prisons during emotional discussions on our Mount Carmel and North Haven campuses.


“Like the Schools of Health Sciences, Nursing and Medicine, the School of Law takes a holistic approach to legal education and the creation of lawyers,” said School of Law Dean Jennifer Brown. “We encourage our students to consider the whole client.”


“The number of women behind bars has grown rapidly,” said Amber Kelly, assistant professor of social work in the School of Health Sciences. “Over the past 30 years, the rate of women in prison has increased by more than 700%.”

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Fair holds a microphone while speaking.

Part of the change

Barbara Fair, a long-time activist in New Haven, speaks during the panel discussion with women who shared their experiences on health care in federal and state prisons.

School of Law Dean Jennifer Brown urged our students to step up to the plate and use their talents to spark change.

“As you listen to the stories and wisdom of our panelists, I hope you will be inspired to think, ‘What can I do? How can I be part of a solution to some of the problems that we hear throughout the course of this conversation. We can make a difference and I’m excited to learn about ways we can be part of the solutions.”

The event, sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing, with additional support by the School of Law, Quinnipiac Prison Project, Campus Crosstalk, Albert Schweitzer Institute, and Department of Cultural and Global Engagement, was open to the entire university community.


Students listen during the presentation.


“While I was there, I saw a lot of women with medical problems that weren’t being addressed,” she said. “There were several women who died.”