TEEN GIRLS AND WOMEN BEHIND BARS
With 700,000+ women in jails, prisons and detention centers across America, I have to blog on some harsh facts about women behind bars. It’s a sad reality that women are the fastest growing portion of the prison population. Since the rise in new drugs and the resulting addiction rates, more women are being arrested than before. While the male prison/jail population in America is mostly made up of blacks and minorities, the female population is mostly white. Incarceration usually occurs due to drug addiction, retaliation after being victims of abuse, or mental illness, rather than dangerous criminal behavior. Two-thirds of female offenders are mothers of minor children, resulting in more than 9 million children in America with a parent under correctional supervision.
One of the most overlooked factors when examining the characteristics of incarcerated women is prior sexual victimization. In a California study, it was determined that 90% of the female inmates admit to being battered and abused in their lifetime. As a mentor, I have learned first-hand that delinquent behavior exhibited by teenage girls is typically less habitual and less serious than teenage males of the same age. Teenage women are more likely to run away, to be more sexually active, and more easily swayed into criminal behavior. At-risk teen girls who have been victimized by adults are more prone to serious problems, making them more susceptible to engaging in behaviors that lead to a life of crime.
Incarcerated women have it 10 times worse than male inmates. Many female inmates are denied medical resources and treatment, especially during pregnancy and when dealing with chronic and degenerative diseases. Female inmates suffering from treatable diseases such as asthma, diabetes, sickle-cell, anemia, cancer, late term miscarriages and seizures all have insufficient access to medical care. Female inmates are often charged for medical attention on the logic that charging for health care services will deter inmates from seeking medical attention. Sadly, 80% or more female inmates don’t have any financial support. Most of the women’s so-called boyfriends or partners leave them quickly after they become incarcerated.
Gynecological support in women’s jails/prisons is inadequate when compared to other nations’ standards. Females inmates are still shackled during childbirth, which can cause serious complications such as hemorrhaging or decreased fetal heart rate. If a c-section is needed, a delay of even 5 minutes may result in permanent brain damage to an innocent baby.
The same story can be told regarding access to mental health care. Some 50-75% of all female inmates have professed sexual and physical abuse before coming to prison and will more than likely suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
I hope these facts help you want to support me in helping change the inadequate levels of care provided to men and women in jails and prisons across America. Please support me in continuing to bring the REAL TALK that is needed when discussing incarceration.