Prisons And The Punishment Of Abuse Survivors

Barbed wire fence
William Anderson
January 28, 2021

Women in prisons and jails are disproportionately survivors of domestic violence and abuse. This tells us a lot of important things about prisons and what they’re actually doing – as opposed to what we’ve been told they accomplish. The injustice is plain to see.

Numbers vary, but a 2016 study indicated that 86% of incarcerated women are survivors of sexual violence, and others have put it at up to 94%! In order to better understand what this means, we have to think about trauma.

Trauma reshapes our minds and can stay with us the rest of our lives. It can influence our everyday reality. Many of these women not only experienced this abuse, but they were imprisoned for defending themselves from it! Prisons rarely consider this.

Women and girls like Marissa Alexander and Cyntoia Brown were locked up for defending themselves from abuse, and have made these injustices more widely known. States like New York have laws that move to take abuse into consideration during sentencing, but we need more.

It’s not just about state laws or reforms aimed at sentencing, it’s a systemic issue that has to do with how we address these issues in our day to day lives. Many people need aid, healthcare, and assistance instead of punishment – and that requires complete transformation!

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