With my first breath it seemed I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Conceived during the drug scene and born in a California prison, it proved to be a noteworthy beginning. No one should be born in prison, but I was with the mother that loved me and wanted to keep me. I am not ashamed and I have grown to appreciate the circumstances of my life. It is who I am and who God wired me to be. I represent a community of people born with the odds against them. I represent children and adults who suffer from systemic neglect and maltreatment daily, simply because they were born. No one expects greatness or success from people born in prison. The stigma weighed heavily on my life until I unwrapped the gifts of wisdom and insight.

Who Is Shawanna Vaughn?

Born with a trace of cocaine in my system, I was counted out before I was ever counted in. My life began in Corona State Prison for women on April 15th, 1978 while my mother was shackled and chained. My future appeared to be headed down hill from that moment on.

During the hundreds of years during slavery, your birth determined your future.  Black babies born to slaves would grow up to become slaves. Today babies born in prison are expected to become part of the prison system. I was almost entrapped by that concept and I almost continued the cycle. I became part of the foster care system and at 17 I was sent back to Valley State Prison for women in Chowchilla, California. It seemed the cycle was going to continue until I recognized that I had the ability to change my destiny. No one can dictate what, or who I will become. My destiny is in my hands and this journey, regardless of how unique it may be, can only serve to fuel my motivation to work for change in this world.

Why Vote Shawanna Vaughn for Harlem in the New York State Assembly?

With your help we can CHANGE the system. It is my job, your job and the community’s responsibility to step up and join the fight for change, protection, equality of resources and programs that will impact lives in the long term. The only way to protect our freedom and liberty is to vote, organize and work like we own stock in this city.  We are definitely vested in our homes, our children and the future of each of us. We cannot afford to lose any of the progress we have made.

Together we can find the best way to help those who are traumatized by prison, COVID-19, and the losses many have suffered due to both.

Shawanna Vaughn and Post Traumatic Prison Disorder: Bill W76337

I submitted a Bill for Post Traumatic Prison  Disorder - W76337, a mass incarceration mental health bill. This Bill will help those traumatized by the prison experience to get reestablished and avoid issues of recidivism. It is a door to correct a few mistakes made through the years that make it impossible for inmates to survive and thrive once they are home.

W76337 allowed Forbes magazine to recognize and acknowledge that my pain had purpose.  And now I'm running for the 70th Assembly District seat of Harlem because it is time that we represent our community in its totality.

I'm a single parent of two children and I understand the plight of education and career choices. I know the problems COVID-19 has caused in education.

Courtesy of Shawanna Vaughn

Which Issues Will Shawanna Vaughn Address as a New York State Assemblymember?

Additional issues I want to address and correct:

Lack of Practical Education Around Home Ownership

We are not teaching home ownership.

Mental Health

We need more social workers in public housing to help recognize trauma. Let’s encourage trauma-informed therapists to meet people on the streets. We should have a safe haven for the mentally impaired.

Rising Poverty Rates and Cost of Living

When we talk about those who are active in crime in our communities, we must acknowledge that poverty is at an all-time high while rent is up 18 percent.

Gun Violence and Crime

We must work diligently to reduce the crime rate and prevent mass shootings and other heinous crimes. We cannot keep giving organizations millions of dollars to give out T-shirts as a way to stop gun violence and crime in the city. It is time we deal with the root causes.

Resources For Public Housing

We have to implore resources, social workers, mental health, peer specialists to the streets in public housing and create crisis centers.

Identifying Community Needs

We must bring people to the table for their input on community and service. We can start the process of identifying real needs  within the community.

Equal Housing Rights

We must clearly define the term equal housing and not allow developers to enter our communities and build houses that we cannot afford. Housing is not a privilege; it's a human right.

Vote For Shawanna E. Vaughn

It is critical that we step outside our comfort zone and vote for someone new. Do something you've never done before. Demand change at the ballot box and vote for Shawanna E  Vaughn.


Join Shawanna Vaughn at the Assembly District 70 Candidates' Forum on Thursday, June 2, 2022, a virtual event from 7-9PM EST. The Greater Harlem Coalition and community members will speak to the three candidates for the Assembly seat: Shawanna E. Vaughn, Inez E. Dickens and Delsinia Glover. Register here for this free event!

Vote for your New York state and local representatives in the primary elections on June 28, 2022. For more information, visit vote.nyc.

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