Mary Heinen

Mary Heinen

Ann Arbor, MI

Prison Creative Arts Project

Heinen will organize, educate, and support people returning from Michigan correction facilities so that they can advocate for themselves and determine their own needs.

Heinen went to prison in 1976 after being charged with felony murder. Within months of entering prison, she became an outspoken advocate for women. She was the lead plaintiff in the landmark case, Glover v. Johnson, which secured gender equity in prison educational and vocational programming. While incarcerated, Heinen earned a paralegal degree and two bachelor degrees and assisted thousands of women and their families with legal issues. Heinen was released in 2002, when Michigan Governor John Engler commuted her life sentence.

Since her release, she has served on the Working Group on Reentry in Lansing, the statewide Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative, and the Reentry Roundtable in Grand Rapids. She is the cofounder of the Prison Creative Arts Project, which provides university workshops and networking opportunities for incarcerated youth and adults in Michigan and hosts the Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners.