When it comes to mass incarceration, Black women are often left out of the conversation, but not the prisons.
Black women are incarcerated at twice the rate as white women while facing the same structural racism Black men do. And the number of women in U.S. prisons has increased exponentially in the last several decades.
According to research from the Sentencing Project, “Though many more men are in prison than women, the rate of growth for female imprisonment has been twice as high as that of men since 1980.”
There are over a million women caught up in the criminal justice system.
Women have unique needs. They’re at higher risk for sexual abuse and over 85% in prison reported having experienced this.
There’s also a need for pregnancy programs and feminine hygiene products. However, many prisons are ill-equipped to give women much needed resources.
Women are disproportionately incarcerated for drug crimes.
They have been shackled during childbirth in prison and even sexually abused by guards. Transgender women are regularly tortured with solitary confinement or sent to men’s facilities. And Black women, of course, have to face these issues compounded by anti-Black racism.
At the current rate, 1 out of 18 Black women will be imprisoned in their lifetime and that’s especially sad considering the fact that incarceration rates for Black women have been decreasing.
We need them to decrease even more.