“As we think about women in jail, we need to think about the impact on communities,” Elizabeth Swavola, one of the authors of the report said.
A new search conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice in collaboration with the Safety and Justice Challenge have brought to light the rapidly rising incarceration rate of Black women. According to facts, the population of women in U.S. jails is rapidly increasing.
The population of women in the country’s female prison has seen a quantum leap from less than 8,000 in 1970 to over 110,000 as at 2014.
This insightful study is titled, “Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform.” According to the search, the African-American women forms a majority of 44% of all women in jail, while the White and Latinos make up 36% and 16% respectively. From the figures, it is obvious that the Black women are incarcerated at a higher rate than any other race in America.
According to the search, almost 80% of women in jail constitute mothers who are the main governess of their children.
A portion of the report from the study states that “Women often become involved with the justice system as a result of efforts to cope with life challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and significant physical or behavioral health struggles, including those related to past histories of trauma, mental illness, or substance use.”
The search also found out that the reason most women are imprisoned is for very minor non-violent and low-level offenses such as; failure to show up in court for a traffic citation, failing a drug test, missing an appointment with a parole officer among several others. Rather unfortunately,
Black women are mostly jailed for such minor and non-violent wrongdoings.
“Oftentimes when we talk about mass incarceration, we focus on prisons, not local jails,” she said. “When we looked at women, there was a 14-fold increase,” Elizabeth Swavola, one of the authors of the study explained the shocking revelation as a result of their work.
Furthermore, the study revealed that about 32% of women in jail suffer from acute mental illness. The prison facilities are usually incapable or not concerned about treatment for mental illness. This situation can be related to Sandra Bland’s case where the negligence of prison officers came to light.
In a quest to summarize the importance of the search on women, Swavola said, “As we think about women in jail, we need to think about the impact on communities.”
This is an insightful search but it is no surprise at all that the Black woman forms the majority of prison inmates in America. A country where racial profiling is at its peak and law enforcement will stop at nothing just to criminalize the Black person. It is no doubt that these same minor non-violent are committed by Whites too but it is left unpunished. Moreover, the Black person is always given an excessive punishment even for the very little thing.
What we are faced with today is no different from what it was in the 1st half of the 20th century. We shouldn’t be fooled by the illusion of equality because the facts and figures actually tell a different story. We shouldn’t let them fool us.
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