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(en) ONWARD vol. 3 iss. 1 OUT NOW! - Women in Prison: Casualties of the War on the Poor - By Ilana Sabban

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.onwardnewspaper.org/)
Date Fri, 11 Oct 2002 03:18:48 -0400 (EDT)


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Women in prisons and girls in juvenile detention centers
are the fastest growing population in the entire prison
system of the United States. And not only are women in
prison separated from their own children, but once
released many women face poverty, as the Drug and
Felony Disenfranchisement Laws make these women
ineligible for welfare or even "workfare." These laws have
left 100,000 women without the safety net of such
programs and, as a result, 135,000 children have also
fallen through the social-safety net.

In the District alone more than two thirds of all women in
prison are mothers, most are single parents. With so
many mothers behind bars children are often left to be
raised by their grandparents or warehoused in the foster
care system. And because women of color are 8 times
more likely to be arrested than white women (Amnesty
International USA), many African-American children are
robbed of their families and end up being raised in foster
care. The separation of parent and child is not only
emotional traumatic, but it leaves children without
parents to supervise their education and opens up a
troubling cycle of incarceration, as children of
incarcerated parents are far more likely to end up in prison
themselves.

Arresting and caging our mothers, affects every societal ill
that is spoken of, yet this problem is rarely addressed. On
Saturday, June 1 the Washington, DC chapter of Critical
Resistance (a national organization dedicated to
abolishing the prison industrial complex) held a rally at
Lincoln Park to bring attention to this issue. The rally had
such distinguished speakers as Patricia Allard of the
Sentencing Project, and long time activist Brenda Smith,
who is a professor of law at American University. This
event was one of the first steps Critical Resistance is
taking to bring the community together, so we can work
to re-unite families of color and recognize the link
between incarceration and other societal problems such as
poverty, foster care, and education. Our communities
have been under attack through profiling, police brutality,
and incarceration for far too long, it's time to join the
efforts of such organizations as Critical Resistance and
fight back!

Ilana Sabban works with the Washington, DC chapter of
Critical Resistance (www.criticalresistance.org) and is the
Community Outreach Coordinator for Redeye Magazine
(www.redeyemagazine.com).


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