In US Prisons, Women Disciplined More than Men for Minor Offenses
WTTW by Evan Garcia
March 28, 2019
Women in prison are disciplined more frequently for minor offenses than their male counterparts in some state prison systems, including those in Illinois, according to an investigation published by NPR and the Chicago Reporter.
The yearlong investigation by Jessica Pupovac, a digital content producer at WTTW who served as lead reporter, and Kari Lydersen of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, included interviews with formerly incarcerated women, past and present corrections officials, experts and academics. The reporting team also analyzed data from prison systems in 15 states.
Pupovac said they found “overwhelming” evidence that “women are disproportionately disciplined for lower-level offenses” such as “talking back or having attitude, being disruptive or disrespectful.”
Should a pregnant person ever go to prison?
Quartz by Zoe Schlanger
April 6, 2019
Siwatu-Salama Ra knew it was time to go to the hospital. As the early stages of her labor began on a day in late May 2018, officers placed handcuffs on her wrists and lead her into the transport van. She arrived to the hospital and to a delivery room where, inside, armed guards would wait all day and night and watch her give birth.
It was awful, but not as bad as it could be. Many other women in her position are taken to the hospital with handcuffs, chains across their waists, and shackled to the floor of the transport vehicle. Then they are shackled to the bed by their ankles while they give birth. Ra on the other hand was not cuffed in the delivery room.
The doctors and nurses in the maternity ward at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti, Michigan, an hour west of Detroit, were used to taking patients from the nearby Huron Valley Correctional Facility, Michigan’s only women’s prison. But Ra’s arrival was a little different; her incarceration a few months earlier was covered by the local news. Hospital staff kept coming into her room to see her, to ask if she needed anything. One nurse said she just wanted to hug her.
There was a trade-off for the lack of restraints, though, she thinks today: increased security once she got to the hospital. Those armed guards—sometimes four, never less than two, always armed and wearing bullet-proof vests—stayed in her delivery room the whole time.
“She was my ultimate punishment.”One of the officers in the hospital room was particularly jumpy. She would clutch her gun every time the doctor or nurse walked in, Ra says. “When she heard the door opening, she would jump up and have her hand on her gun,” Ra remembers. “And I’m sitting in my bed, holding my stomach, you know?” What was the officer worried about, she wondered—that she was going to run away while in labor? It was a bigger insult than the handcuffs in the van, to have that woman with that gun in the room. “She was my ultimate punishment,” Ra says.
Ra, now 27, went to prison on March 1, 2018, when she was six-and-a-half months pregnant with her second child. Her first child, Zala, was two, and up until that day the mother-daughter pair were attached at the hip. Before prison, Ra worked as an organizer for a local environmental non-profit in her hometown of Detroit, where she and her mother, Rhonda Anderson, are both well known in the tight-knit activist community. Detroit is a city where families in majority-black neighborhoods are inundated by a constant mist of industrial pollution and where water shutoffs are so frequent the UN has called it a human rights violation; the circumstances have birthed a vibrant environmental activism community with Ra’s family more or less at the center.
Beyond Prisons: Taylar Neuvelle on Knitting in Prison
Taylar Nuevelle joins the Beyond Prisons podcast to talk about her experiences with knitting while incarcerated. In particular, we talk about her love of knitting, the space it created for her in prison, as well as how it was used to punish her.
Ms. Nuevelle is a writer and advocate for justice-involved women. In 2017 she created a writing program at the Central Treatment Facility (CTF), the women’s jail in DC, “Sharing Our Stories to Reclaim Our Lives.” She is credited for creating the concept of the “Trauma-to-Prison Pipeline” for women and girls.
While incarcerated at the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA/CTF) D.C. and in the Federal Bureau of Prisons from 2010 to 2015, Ms. Nuevelle volunteered by providing legal advocacy for fellow incarcerated women. Ms. Nuevelle’s writings have appeared in The Washington Post, Talk Poverty, The Nation, the Vera Institute for Justice Blog and Ms. Magazine online. Ms. Nuevelle holds a B.A. in Literature.
First-of-Its-Kind Study Fills in Decades-Long Blank About Pregnancy in Prison
Rewire News by Victoria Law
In a new study published this week, researchers are filling in the blanks left by outdated, decades-old data about pregnancy behind bars. This is a black hole that government agencies have failed to fill since 2004—even though the growth of women’s incarceration continues to outpace that of men.
Four percent of the world’s women live in the United States—but more than 30 percent of the world’s incarcerated women live here. Despite this dramatic disproportion, little remains known about the gender-specific health conditions among incarcerated women.
On Thursday, the Pregnancy in Prison Statistics (PIPS) project—the only systematic study of pregnancy outcomes in prisons across the United States—published its first set of findings in the American Journal of Public Health. PIPS was launched by Advocacy and Research on Reproductive Wellness of Incarcerated People (ARRWIP), a group of researchers examining the intersections of reproductive justice and criminal justice. While the researchers conducted a pilot study in 2015, they collected the data for their new study from 2016 to 2017.
North Carolina denies transgender inmate's request to transfer to women's prison
ABC Eyewitness News
LILLINGTON, N.C. --
A transgender inmate convicted of insurance fraud is serving time at a men's prison in North Carolina despite repeated requests to transfer to women's housing.
The News and Observer reports 37-year-old Kanautica Zayre-Brown is believed to be the state's only post-operative transgender prisoner. The state recognizes Zayre-Brown as a man and by birth name, which was legally changed.
Imprisoned as a habitual felon in 2017 after completing a surgical transition, Zayre-Brown is serving up to 9 years and 11 months. Zayre-Brown showers and changes in front of other biologically male inmates, despite having breasts and sex-reassignment surgery. Zayre-Brown said being assaulted is a constant fear.
Investigation into inmate’s suicide faults Maryland women’s prison’s treatment of people with disabilities : Washington Post
Investigation into inmate’s suicide faults Maryland women’s prison’s treatment of people with disabilities
Washington Post By Lillian Reed
An investigation into Maryland’s only prison for women following the 2017 suicide of an inmate found the facility violated the constitutional rights of people with disabilities who are placed in segregation and did not take sufficient steps to “prevent future harm.”
The investigation, released Friday by Disability Rights Maryland, reviewed the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women and its role in the death of inmate Emily Butler, who was found dead in her cell from an apparent suicide on Nov. 12, 2017. The investigative report details several findings and recommends changes on how the prison can better handle inmates with disabilities.
Disability Rights Maryland is the state’s designated authority under federal law for conducting investigations into allegations of abuse and negligence for people with disabilities. The group, along with Munib Lohrasbi of the Open Society Institute of Baltimore, launched a review after Butler’s death in segregation.
How to Support Cyntoia Brown
Colorlines by Ayana Byrd
December 10, 2018
Sentenced to life in prison at 16 for killing her would-be rapist, Brown is not eligible for parole until she is 67.
In the unanimous decision, the state court ruled that juvenile offenders facing life, like Brown, must serve five decades before being considered for parole.
Brown is in the Tennessee Prison for Women for shooting Johnny Allen in 2004. At the time of the incident, she was a 16-year-old who had been forced into prostitution. Allen, 43, picked her up at a Sonic drive-in and drove her back to his house, which had guns on display. Brown maintains that she killed him with a gun from her purse in an act of self-defense. Prosecutors in her trial countered that she went to Allen’s house to rob him.
America's Other Family-Separation Crisis
The New Yorker by Sarah Stillman
... America imprisons women in astonishing numbers. The population of women in state prisons has increased by more than eight hundred per cent in the past four decades. The number of women in local jails is fourteen times higher than it was in the nineteen-seventies; most of these women haven’t been convicted of a crime but are too poor to post bail while awaiting trial. The majority have been charged with low-level, nonviolent offenses, such as drug possession, shoplifting, and parole violations. The result is that more than a quarter of a million children in the U.S. have a mother in jail. One in nine black children has a parent who is, or has been, incarcerated. ...
In Iowa, A Commitment to make prison work better for women
NPR by Joseph Shapiro
October 17, 2018
The warden at the women's prison in Iowa recently instructed her corrections officers to stop giving out so many disciplinary tickets for minor violations of prison rules, like when a woman wears her sweatshirt inside out or rolls up her sleeves.
It's a small thing. But it's also part of a growing movement to reconsider the way women are treated in prison.
Called "gender-responsive corrections," the movement is built on a simple idea: that prison rules created to control men, particularly violent ones, often don't work well for women. That women come to prison with different histories from men — they're more likely to be victims of violence, for example — and they need different rules.
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In Prison, Discipline Comes Down Hardest On Women
NPR by Joseph Shapiro, Jessica Pupovac, Kari Lydersen
October 15, 2018
When Monica Cosby, Tyteanna Williams and Celia Colon talk about the years they spent as inmates at women's prisons in Illinois, their stories often turn to the times they would be disciplined for what seemed like small, even absurd things.
Cosby was playing Scrabble in her cell once when a guard asked what she was doing. She responded sarcastically: "What does it look like I'm doing?" He wrote her up for "contraband" (the Scrabble set) and for "insolence."
Williams got written up once when her cellmate, who had diabetes, passed out and Williams cursed at the officer she thought was too slow to help.
Colon got a disciplinary ticket for "reckless eye-balling." She had made a face when a corrections officer gave her an order. She says she ended up in solitary confinement as a result.
"You could get a ticket for anything," Colon said.
Especially, it turns out, if you're a woman.
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