Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work
The New York Times By Melanie Deziel
As the number of women inmates soars, so does the need for policies and programs that meet their needs.
Over the past three decades, the number of women serving time in American prisons has increased more than eightfold.
Today, some 15,000 are held in federal custody and an additional 100,000 are behind bars in local jails. That sustained growth has researchers, former inmates and prison reform advocates calling for women’s facilities that do more than replicate a system designed for men.
“These are invisible women,” says Dr. Stephanie Covington, a psychologist and co-director of the Center For Gender and Justice, an advocacy group based in La Jolla, Calif. “Every piece of the experience of being in the criminal justice system differs between men and women.”
At the most basic level, women often must make do with jumpsuits that are made from men’s designs rather than being cut for female bodies. And standard personal-care items often don’t account for different skin tones or hair types.
It’s not just vanity: What drives some prisoners to mix their own makeup or tailor their uniforms is the need to maintain their dignity in a situation that does little to protect it.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive