Tag Archives: Jail

86 Percent of Women in Jail Are Sexual-Violence Survivors When speaking of mass incarceration, men are usually the default, it’s time that change.

According to a recent study, 86 percent of women who have spent time in jail report that they had been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. As well, while women represent just 13 percent of the jail population between 2009 and 2011, they represented 67 percent of the victims of staff-on-inmate sexual victimization. Sexual violence is so pronounced among jailed and incarcerated women that Sen. Cory Booker, (D-NJ,) labeled the overarching phenomenon as “a survivor-of-sexual-trauma to prisoner pipeline.”

These numbers come from the Vera Institute of Justice, which authored a survey last year titled “Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform.” Given the rising numbers of incarcerated women, specifically in local jails, and the lack of research on them, the Institute wanted to examine who those women were and what adversities they faced. Other findings were equally alarming as those above.

Two thirds of the women in jail are of color, and the majority of that population is also low-income. Further, nearly 80 percent of the incarcerated are mothers, most of them raising a child without a partner. Eighty-two percent were incarcerated for nonviolent offenses, while 32 percent have serious mental illness and 82 percent suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. Finally, 77 percent of those polled were victims of partner violence and and another 60 percent experienced caregiver violence.

First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray, who works with women at Rikers Island, added that in addition to the prevalence of sexual assault, abuse and trauma present in the lives of the majority of incarcerated women, “women are often trapped in a lower-paid status,” she told Salon on a recent episode of “Salon Talks.”

This economic reality is often what inspires the crimes that end up landing these women in local jails in the first place. Laurie Garduque, the criminal justice director of the MacArthur Foundation, which co-published the survey, told Salon that many women end up in jail because of “crimes of poverty.” During the survey, she encountered women who were jailed for reasons like unpaid parking tickets, stealing discount clothes for their children and for failing to show up to court.

“A lot of people are there because they haven’t paid their fines and fees, haven’t paid their child support, have outstanding bench warrants,” she added. Beyond that, many are forced to stay in jail awaiting pre-trial because they have no resources to pay cash bail.

The survey found that in 2012, 36 percent of women were being held in a pre-trial unit in Massachusetts because they could not afford bail amounts of less than $500. Given that Black and Latina women live at low-income rates disproportionate to the white population, they are also the cohorts most impacted by the cash bail system.

Simply, the economic realities for women compounded by the economic realities for people of color combine to create a system where members of certain at-risk populations awaiting trial may spend significant time behind bars for minor offenses they were compelled to commit regardless of whether they are convicted of them or not. “It’s really a revolving door,” Garduque said.

Garduque also emphasized another point. “Over the same period of time where we’ve seen a growth in incarceration with respect to prisons, we’ve seen growth and the reliance of jails,” she continued. “So they’ve become transformed, devoted less to protecting public safety and more in line with housing poor people, and people with behavioral health issues, or where other systems have failed them.”

Many of these problems only mount once a woman is jailed as “most jail environments were not designed with them in mind and do not take into account the particular adversities they have experienced,” the report says. Garduque explained that many jails are not equipped to deal with gynecological issues, pregnancy, menstrual cycles or the fact that the majority of women in jail retain custody of their children.

All of this data points to a striking problem in criminal justice reform. Policymakers tend to address reform in stages, prioritizing some populations and leaving others vastly overlooked. Because women still represent a small percentage of the jail population, “the jails have not focused their time or resources to think about what specifics needs need to be addressed,” Garduque said. “That’s why jail, in many respects, will make women even worse off.”

Overall, though the population of 1.2 million women currently supervised by the criminal justice system in many ways mirrors that of incarcerated men, being that both disproportionately house affect the low-income population and people of color. Yet, reformers rarely include women in the discussion of mass incarceration and criminal justice reform. It’s a striking mistake given the shifting demographics of those behind bars.

While there has been an overall decline in the number of incarcerated men on a local and state level, the same is not true for incarcerated women. In fact, “the rate of growth for female imprisonment has outpaced men by more than 50% between 1980 and 2014,” the Sentencing Project says.

Given that women are the fastest growing jail population in the nation, the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge is working with jurisdictions to address the “misuse and overuse of jails” and to reduce jail populations by fostering more equitable justice systems.

The Vera Institute and the MacArthur Foundation see women-specific reforms as the only route forward. “It’s much more complicated than it is for men,” McCray added.

In an attempt to address this, the foundation selected various jurisdictions with different resources to demonstrate that “regardless of their resources,” Garduque said, “if they have the political will, and if they have the knowledge and information, that they can enact the reform to eliminate unnecessary use of jail and still address the issue of racial and economic disparity.”

There has been a tentative response to the plight of incarcerated women in Congress as well. In July, Booker proposed a new bill titled “the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act” cosigned by Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Dick Durbin. According to Slate, some of the provisions include a ban on the shackling or placing in solitary confinement of pregnant inmates.

Further, the bill would require prisons to provide free menstrual products for those awaiting trial and bar male guards from supervising female inmates in bathrooms, except during emergencies. Inmates would no longer be charged for calling friends and family members. The bill would also consider the placement of incarcerated women who are mothers in relation to their families, and foster more accessible communication and visitation between mothers and their children in general.

These and other proposed reforms contained within the Dignity Act fall in line with what the Vera Institute urges. Yet, the Dignity Act would only apply to women in federal prisons. Even with its passage, things would not necessarily change for the number of individuals jails and state prisons who make up the overwhelming bulk of the incarcerated women in the United States.

Still, the act’s passing would be a step forward for many and, perhaps, a motivation for state and local authorities to reconsider and revise their own practices.

Whatever the case, the already dire situation for women behind bars — and quite specifically in jail — erodes further toward the inhuman with every passing day. It’s a systematic crisis that, by now, has transcended the legal and the logistical to take on the dimensions of a moral emergency.

“I know there’s a lot going on right now,” Booker told Refinery 29, referring to the political climate. “But you can always judge the greatness of a society by looking at who it imprisons and how it treats them.” By that measure, the United States has much to do in order to claim any kind of greatness.

By Rachel Leah / Salon

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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An Inmate Died Of Thirst In A Jail Run By A Loudly Pro-Trump Sheriff

Authorities have ruled the death of an inmate at a jail run by a top law enforcement supporter of GOP nominee Donald Trump a homicide caused by “profound dehydration.”

Image: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Terrill Thomas, 38, was found dead in a Milwaukee County Jail cell on April 24, nine days after being arrested in connection with a shooting. Other inmates heard Thomas beg for water in the days before he died, the Journal Sentinel reported in July.

The Huffington Post has been tracking jail deaths ― more than 800 ― in the year since Sandra Bland died in a Texas jail on July 13, 2015.

The Huffington Post has been tracking jail deaths ― more than 800 ― in the year since Sandra Bland died in a Texas jail on July 13, 2015.

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Shocker: Bundy Bros Discover That Jail Inmates Have Fewer Freedoms

The Bundy brothers alleged that they have little access to their legal teams, “insufficient accommodations for religious practice,” and are “being denied access to materials and resources reasonably required to defend their respective cases.”

“Despite being presumed innocent, these defendants are treated as harshly and the same as convicted felons with whom they are commingled and housed,” they alleged.

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Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Weighs In On Flint Water Crisis

Image: Black America Web

The former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick spoke out from prison on the Flint, Michigan water issue. He made his comments in a letter posted by local news station WKYZ.  The larger question is if there was actual knowledge this water was contaminated before distribution began as his letter seems to insinuate, who will black America demand to be punished?

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FCC decides to slash prison phone rates — and maybe recidivism

Federal regulators will vote on capping the cost of phone calls from prison, which are far more expensive than ordinary calls.
Image: Istockphoto via NPR

It costs a lot of money to talk on the phone to someone in jail — so much that those phone bills have drawn the attention of federal regulators. Now the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Thursday to limit the price of prison phone calls.

“We’re cutting off necessities, just so we can keep this communication going,” says Miguel Saucedo, a Ph.D. student and community activist in Chicago. His brother Luis is in prison in Illinois, where he has been incarcerated since 1996.

For roughly 20 years, Miguel Saucedo and his family have been setting aside money to talk to Luis on the phone — money that could have gone to those necessities. Saucedo doesn’t know exactly how much his family has paid over the years. But he estimates “it would have to be” over $10,000 or $20,000.

For most of us, those phone calls would cost just a few cents per minute. But for inmates and their families, phone rates and fees can be many times higher. It’s common for them to pay $13 for a 15-minute call.

“I see the clearest, most egregious case of market failure ever,” says FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who has been working on this issue for several years. “This is a major cost that families pay. And these families are the most economically vulnerable in our nation.”

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The Big Cheat: Why Teachers Are Going to Prison While Charter School Operators Get Accolades

No one likes a cheater.

So you’d think plenty of people would be pleased to hear that educators in Atlanta, on trial for cheating on standardized tests, were found guilty of those charges and sentenced “harshly,” according to the New York Times.

As CNN reports, of the 12 educators who went on trial for “inflating test scores of children from struggling schools,” 11 were convicted of racketeering—a crime normally associated with mob bosses—and other lesser crimes. Of those who have been sentenced so far (one sentencing has been postponed), eight have been given jail or prison time and three will serve at least seven years. Only those who admitted guilt and waived appeals were spared.

But even before the sentencing was finalized, there was widespread condemnation of the idea that prison terms were even in consideration. An “outrage” one commentator called it. “Racist,” declared another.
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Report: US prisons hold 10 times more mentally ill people than state hospitals

Image: Forbes

More than 356,000 people with mental illnesses are incarcerated in the United States, as opposed to around 35,000 receiving treatment in state hospitals, a new study found, highlighting the dire state of the nation’s mental health care system.

The lead author of the report, conducted by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs’ Association, said the ten-to-one ratio of patients in prison versus those receiving qualified care is on par with the US mental health system of the 1830s.

“We’ve basically gone back to where we were 170 years ago,” Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, told Kaiser Health News. “We are doing an abysmal job of treating people with serious mental illnesses in this country. It is both inhumane and shocking the way we have dumped them into the state prisons and the local jails.”

The report found 44 states and the District of Columbia have at least one jail that holds more people coping with a mental illness than the largest state psychiatric hospital in the US does.

As states have drastically cut funding for mental health services in the last several years, the number of available beds in psychiatric hospitals has plunged to the lowest level since 1850.

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