I am fortunate enough to live in quiet bedroom community outside of Boston, but it was not always thus. I used to live in the heart of one of the inner city’s biggest ghettos, Roxbury. I bring this up, because it was there, that dwelt a profound and long-lived piece of graffiti. Sprayed unceremoniously across a back-alley wall – and left untouched for years, perhaps even a decade – was simply, “Vietnam women carry guns.”
I always saw this brief epithet as an admonition to us, the three-legged gender. A line in the sand, if you will. To my interpretation, women were telling us that they would no longer bear the inequity, the violence, and the sexual servitude that made up their slice of the American pie. This spray-painted missive wasn’t a plea. It wasn’t even a demand. It was a warning.
Since that time, I have seen our national incarceration rates increase by nearly 800%. What I didn’t know however, was that that number consists of a 2 to 1 ratio of women over men. That’s right. Women are being sentenced to prison terms at almost double the rate of men. In addition, the prisons in question are not keeping up with this massive influx of population. They’re failing to offer job and drug counseling. They’re desperately wonton in providing prenatal and postnatal care. They are at a loss to address inmate on inmate violence and rape, and evidence exists that they may even be complicit in it. In fact, the prison system in America is woefully inadequate at addressing the psychological and physical needs of women.
Consider these points from the Sentencing Project.
- The Criminal Justice System currently has jurisdiction over more than 1 million women.
- More than a quarter of those are currently housed in some form of state prison or jail.
- Women now account for 7% of all prisoners in the U.S.
- The number of women in correctional facilities has increased by over 400% since the mid-eighties.
- In 2003, 29% of women’s convictions were for a drug offense. Thirty percent were for a property offense, where men were at 19% and 20% respectively. On the other hand, men were convicted of a violent crime 53% of the time, as compared to women’s 35%.
Are women committing more crimes than they did 30 years ago? Is law enforcement doing a better job of catching and prosecuting these women? Or is it that the economic, social and legislative pressures that are working on building our new criminal class, have an even more devastating effect on our female population? In other words, are more and more women turning to drugs, prostitution and theft, because they see no other way out?
Our gratitude to the Sentencing Project for their great work in putting together this report. To see the original, you can go here:
Tapestry Entertainment set out on a mission to bring awareness of this situation to the public. They decided that the best way to do that would be a movie – but here’s where their idea evolved from simply good to great. They didn’t want to make another documentary, and they certainly didn’t want to make a teen-porn Chained Heat kind of thing. What they did was to take letters and interview information from real women serving time in real prisons, and create a fictionalized facility which bears the title of their independently produced and marketed film – Women’s Playground.
Currently, their marketing plan involves screening events at selected independent theaters. As yet, they haven’t been able to get the film out, beyond the Philadelphia area. DeafInPrison.com has been in talks with Tapestry to work toward getting this powerful and entertaining independent film produced in DVD and streaming media formats. We are committed to making that happen. I think this movie needs to be seen. I think a film that is both educational and entertaining will work wonders in moving this tragic situation into the national debate.
BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.
- Women’s Playground Movie Pulls No Punches (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- Interview With Glenn Langohr, Author of Prison Riot (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- Happy Birthday CCA! You’re the New Parchman Farm! (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- Police Leaders – Speak Out! Reblogged from Improving Police (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- When One Hand Refuses to Wash the Other (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- Alabama pardon for ‘Scottsboro Boys’ now 82 years overdue (tv.msnbc.com)
- What’s Going On? (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- Digest Post – Sunday 1/13/2013 (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- The Cost of Solitary Confinement – From NY Times (deafinprison.wordpress.com)
- Review: “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women” by Victoria Law (dogmaandgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
7 thoughts on “A Great Idea, A Commitment and an Embeded File”
Folks concerned about thee escalating rate of incarceration of women can go in two directions:
(1) they can push for specialized ‘gender-responsive’ jails & prisons, allow women and babies to serve time together, give ‘sensitivity training’ to guards, hire more female wardens, build more and smaller lock-ups OR
(2) DECARCERATE. Stop sending women to prison. Stop punishing women for economic crimes of survival, establish drug treatment on demand in community settings beyond the reach of the PIC, provide a guaranteed annual income that recognizes the value of raising children, and support health care and education for all.
Unfortunately, here in MA. self-professed liberal reformers & ‘progressive’ women legislators push for ever more $$$ for steel cages. When Simmons College celebrates International Women’s Day by hosting a woman jailor of color and a Newton Legislator who seeks the construction of women’s jails in every county – we’re in a heap of trouble!
OVERCROWDING IS NOT NECESSARY; IT’S DELIBERATE! The solution is NOT brighter, cleaner high tech lock ups run by women for women. We must address the root of the problem, not its symptoms. DECARCERATE!
Thank you, and I absolutely 100% agree!
Do we have statistics on how many deaf and hard of hearing persons are incarcerated? how many deaf women? how many deaf men?
Hi Jean. I’m sure they exist, but I have been unable to find any. The federal and state incarceration break-downs that I’ve seen don’t include it as a category. In fact, I haven’t even seen the overarching category of People with disability. They break them down by race, gender and nature of offense, but that’s all I’ve been able to find. If you – or any of our readers – can find that spec, I’d certainly be interested in publishing it.