The criminal justice system in the United States often mistreats women, particularly those who have experienced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. 81% percent of the incarcerated women reported experiencing sexual coercion, 54% experienced attempted rape, and 73% reported having been raped. Fifty-four percent reported childhood physical abuse and 68% reported childhood sexual abuse. This highlights the need for a more compassionate and effective approach to helping women who find themselves in the criminal justice system.
Risk factors that contribute to women’s criminal behavior include substance abuse, mental illness, and spousal abuse. Unfortunately, women in the criminal justice system are often denied the rehabilitation that could help them reintegrate back into society as productive members. Instead, they may experience dehumanizing treatment in prisons, which exacerbates their mental health issues and makes it more difficult to rebuild their lives after release.
Girls are also disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system, often entering the juvenile justice system with a history of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. They may be arrested for running away from violent home situations, yet instead of receiving counseling and mental health services, they may face further trauma and humiliation in prisons.
Pregnant prisoners often endure shackling during labor and delivery, which is inhumane and unconstitutional, yet still practiced in many state facilities. Women in prison may also be denied basic reproductive health services, such as pregnancy testing, prenatal care, and access to abortion services.
After release from prison, women may face further discrimination and barriers to effectively re-entering society and providing for themselves and their children. Women of color, who are disproportionately poor, may be restricted from government assistance programs such as housing, employment, education, and subsistence benefits. Statutory bans may also be imposed on people with certain convictions working in certain industries, such as nursing, child care, and home health care, which can disproportionately affect poor women and women of color.
On this International Women’s Day, it is important to recognize the challenges that women face within the criminal justice system.
- Women who have experienced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are often mistreated, denied proper rehabilitation, and face further discrimination after their release from prison.
- We must work towards a more compassionate and effective approach to helping these women, one that recognizes their unique experiences and provides them with the necessary resources to rebuild their lives.
- It is also important to recognize the disproportionate impact that the criminal justice system has on women of color, who are often trapped in cycles of poverty and systemic racism.
- By addressing the underlying issues of inequality and discrimination that contribute to women’s criminal behavior, we can work towards a more just and equitable society for all women.
As we celebrate the achievements of women around the world on this International Women’s Day, let us also remember those who are still fighting for their rights and freedoms. By standing in solidarity with women who are marginalized and oppressed, we can work towards a world where all women can live their lives free from fear and discrimination.