If we’ve learned anything from Black History, it’s that every setback is a set up for a comeback.
Jamila Davis is living proof of that concept. The former real estate investor had high profile clientele and became a self-made millionaire at the age of 25. However, her life took a turn for the worse when she was sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison for bank fraud. Spending time in prison obviously isn’t easy, but Davis used her time to set herself up for what she wanted her life to look like on the other side.
“Prison, by far, was one of the darkest journeys that I had been on in my life. However, it gave me the time out that I needed to heal, tap into my purpose and become my greatest self. Healing started for me when the doors locked behind me and I was stripped of the material possessions I once used to define my self-worth,” says Davis. “This forced me to gain a close relationship with God and to accept the reality of my past poor choices. When I finally surrendered, God showed up in a real and tangible way. I used my time in meditation to connect with the universe, which helped me to purposely see what good could come out of my experience. That was my motivation.”
“Incarceration usually doesn’t include transformative work. We are generally locked up and warehoused instead of being given the resources to be reformed. I became a co-founder of Women Over Incarcerated to provide resources to incarcerated women and to shed light on the lengthy sentences many in this population serve for nonviolent crimes,” says Davis.
Davis began writing self-help books for incarcerated women. She shared the road maps she used for her previous success and realized that the information she provided filled a void for a lot of the women she encountered. When Davis was released a decade later, she began to put the self-help and writing skills she honed in prison to use in major ways by using her experience as the blueprint.
“Incarceration usually doesn’t include transformative work. We are generally locked up and warehoused instead of being given the resources to be reformed. I became a co-founder of Women Over Incarcerated to provide resources to incarcerated women and to shed light on the lengthy sentences many in this population serve for nonviolent crimes,” says Davis. “I decided I no longer wanted to be apart of the problem, so I helped create this entity so I could be apart of the solution. Incarcerated women and at-risk girls need resources, guidance and love. That’s the real formula for change.”
Women Over Incarcerated is a Philadelphia-based organization that advocates for incarcerated women, helping to empower them upon their release from prison through counseling, mentoring, and providing clothing, as well as raising public awareness about the rising epidemic of women in prison and its social impact.
Davis is in demand as a speaker and activist, and while Covid-19 has changed how we all do business, it hasn’t stopped her mission of empowering youth and adults, as well as destroying the school-to-prison pipeline and changing the way we think about incarcerated humans and the need for prison reform.
“It feels good to finally live life on purpose doing what I absolutely love. Not only am I able to see the lives of many transformed, I’m also able to get paid well for it at the same time. That’s what I call God in action,” says Davis. “I want people to know through my work long after I’m gone, that despite where they come from, no matter what past mistakes they made, there is always an opportunity to dust yourself off and get back up again.”