TRGGR Radio: Women’s Imprisonment – 6.8.2012

Posted: June 9, 2012 by trggradio in Activism, Andrea James, Charles Wilhite, Families for Justice as Healing, Incarceration, Mumia Abu Jamal, Prison Birth Project, The Real Cost of Prisons


Image credit: Susan Willmarth (Thanks Lois!)

Since the late 1990s, the rate of women’s incarceration nationally has doubled that of incarcerated men. In 1980, there were roughly 14,000 women incarcerated nationally; by 2008 that number was well over 200,000. Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the lowest rate of women imprisonment in the country (currently at 13 out of every 100,000 people), its population of incarcerated women and mothers is growing.

As of 2010, over 60% of “women in prison in the Commonwealth had been found guilty of nonviolent crimes such as drug and property offenses.” Currently there is a Bill before the Massachusetts legislature (H 2234) that “would establish minimum standards for the treatment and medical care of female inmates to promote safe, healthy pregnancy outcomes, prohibit shackling during childbirth, and ensure that release planning includes child custody and basic family planning information and services.”

According to the Bill’s Factsheet, “Nearly two-thirds of women in prison are mothers, and 77% of incarcerated mothers report providing most of the daily care for their children before incarceration. Further, according to the Bureau of Justice in 2007, 5% of women who enter into state prisons are pregnant, and 6% of women in jails are pregnant.”

The backgrounds, experiences, and needs of these women pre- and post-incarceration require our attention if we are to reverse these trends. Groups such as the Rebecca Project, the National Women’s Law Center, and locally the Prison Birth Project and The Real Cost of Prisons, among numerous other groups, have been crucial in bringing to public light the range of issues facing incarcerated women. A newly formed Boston-based organization, Families for Justice as Healing, seeks to “organize and mobilize families of those incarcerated for drug related offenses to join the movement toward creating criminal justice legislation that heals and rebuilds families and communities.” Joining us on the phone to talk about their work is the organization’s founder, Andrea James.

In part two of the show we speak with Vera Cage of the Justice for Charles Wilhite campaign based in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Part 1: featuring Andrea James

Part 2: Charles Wilhite updates, Juneteenth Celebration, Race and Politics

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Comments
  1. Panama says:

    The results of study conducted in a Rhode Island prison indicated high levels of reproductive health risks( STDs, unplanned pregnancies, etc.), from which researchers concluded that providing reproductive health services to incarcerated women would be beneficial to the women, the community, and the criminal justice system.

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