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W om en and THE P-r I son I nd Us i RI a l' COMPIESx

W om en and THE

P-r I son I nd Us i RI a l'


A cycle of abuse that begs the question: would abolishing

prisons decrease or increase abuse against women?

BY Brooke kato




Privatizing prisons

Expansion of prison system









"broken-window policing"

tough ou crime e policies"

"Prisons ave not broken-

w overcrowdla

vinner cities- wild west"






"STOP + frisk"

Sop tactos


$66 bil.on prison sus

The rapid expansion of the prison system

and all its associated

Two thirds of private prisons have lock up quotas

facets, including policing and law,

which seek to solve problems

in society with incarceration.

Millions of taxpayer dollars fuels PIC

It is interconnected with

Prison quotas between 80%-100% for funding

corporate profit and greed, relying on numbers and quotas to

operate, instead of having

the best interest of people in mind.

Does policing help women who survive


women are often deterved from calling the police for an away of reasons: some being deportation brutality, or retaliation from their abusers if an arrest isn't made.

carceral feminism called for us more police funding and . mandatory arrest laws with 4

the goal of abusers being arrested. Instead, it led to

n victims." the arrests of abuse survivors. Ww w

This was is typical

in low income, & gentrefied neighborhoods,

women of color are

profiled to not be N


Welfare funding cuts have resulted in an even smaller safety net for domestic

abuse Survivors to flee.

5 Budget cuts from

welfare aves towards . policinat onsons !

Because of these systemic

failures, women often rely on self-defense methods. Despite the history of abuse, courts

convict ~75-80% of abuse survivors sentencing them to 2-3x asiong as men.


victims of domestic violence don't always have access to

adequate resources.



Experts call this the "Sexual abuse to prison pipeline"

In prison, women can be subject to abuse by the male guards, which make up ~70'ls of the officers.

After prison, women Often do not have adequate resources and could end up in poverty, another abusive relationship,etc. which could lead them

back to prison


In cases of domestic Prison guards almost

sexual viovend, polic

a policing never face criminal has proven to be a charges, which perpetuates) ineffective and only hurts women in t.

the behavior. these cases. W

women inmates are afraid to speak up because the

guards could retaliate by writing them up or taking

away basic needs.

B0ļi s H

R E Form

Prison abolitionists call for the closure of

the prison system and want to look at and solve the larger issue : What causes someone to commit a crime?

This cycle of violence,

abuse, poverty, and limited accessibility is what causes people

to be cycled through the PIC time and time again.)

According to the ACLU,

women in prison are more likely to have experienced abuse, abuse substances, and suffer from mental illness. They end up in prison because there is a lack of resources for them.

Activists Angela Davis and Ruth wilson Gilmore have been calling for government to invest more in practical policy (jobs, education, housing, healthcare) in order to prevent violence, instead of punishing people after the fact.

This is especially true for women in poverty. ~80% of women in prison come from

low income backgrounds.

Prison abolitionists believe that by addressing those social problems instead of TOCKing people up, we wouldn't need prisons.

Prisons were a reform, an alternative to torturing criminels. But now, they are privatized, corporate mechanisms of state violence, with

200 million people incarcerated (many of them POC and low income).


If violence and mistreatment cause people to end up in

pnson, why does the state use the same methods to "Solve" the problem?

But there is skepticism around total abolition. Prison Reformists believe abolition is impossible and that sweeping reform could just lower The number of people incarcerated.

1971 Angela Davis


WHAT WOULD A world without


Abolishing prisons would abolish the further torture and abuse of women) in the pic, especially women who

are abuse survivors.


Prison abolitionists and reformists desire similar means when it comes to the community: more funding for resources like housing, health care, education, etc. to prevent crime

and incarceration.

What about abuse lassault

survivors who feel safer with their abusers behind!


The Vera Institute estimates an average of $31.000 spent per inmate in prison, which is nearly triple the amount

spent on students in elementanyl imagine what would decondary school, according to CNN.

happen if the money

spent on prisons was used to improve schools and resources to build a strong foundation for individual's lives to reduce violent crime.

while manu criminal

Offenders are preclisposed to violent crime because of their ennronment, there

are some that are not. what, then, would happen

to them?

Instead, the state would rather address the violence after the fact instead of attempting to prevent it.


while some states have changed sentencing and release laws to cut prison

spending, 4 in 10' people released end up

in prison again within 3 years because

There is no limited funding for resources.

Bon abolitionists and reformists want less

Crime and violence, which can be achieved by funding preventative measures.

What about men

like Harvey Weinstein? Oro

R. Kelly? would prison abolition be an erasure

of these traumatic, violent experiences?


Prison reformists have it right: reallocate funds and invest in communities, but don't get rid of prisons entirely. They see that by reducing incarceration rates, prisons will be defunded, resulting in less prisons and less policing. which will narrow the scope of the PIC.


Even with funds for community resources, there are bound to be people who will still be violent, still assault and abuse. The women who face that violence would never feel safe if there wasn't a place like prison where their abuser could be locked away so they could feel safe.

Abolitionists and reformists have to stand in solidarity with each other, acknowledging their differences in goals, but acknowledging that their means to get there are the same:

increased funding to communities in order to reduce violence and, subsequently, incarceration rates.

If these methods

Work long term, r maybe abolition

could work, . But it requires unity

It's been proven that women who experience abuse are more likely to end up in prison because they are predisposed to violence. If they are violent in retaliation or self defense as a response to their abuse, they are often not seen as victims but rather as perpetrators and end up in prison regardless of their history of abuse. There, they are subject to more abuse by prison guards and by inhumane confinement and treatment.

While prison abolition would be ideal to end this cycle of abuse

for women, is it really possible? It is more likely that people from low income backgrounds or have histories of abuse will be incarcerated. Reallocating funds to provide more housing, healthcare, education, and basic needs for these communities would result in lower incarceration rates, which would lead to closures of many However, there are people who are prisons, as funding relies on / still violent outside these factors. incarceration rates.

For women who experience abuse and their abusers are in prison, they feel safer knowing that person can never come near them and that they

are no longer in danger. Abolitionists would say we should be addressing the causes of violence in order to prevent it before it

How do we occurs, but in the society we live in, it is uncertain whether we can

with all abuse really prevent ALL cases of abuse

survivors? or violence, as there would still be people who fall through the cracks.

There is power in unity and solidarity. coming together in this way has the potential to achieve both goals.

"Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages." - Angela Davis

Stand in Solidarity

without solidarity, there is no pressure for change

and no one will ever truly be liberated.

So where is the middle ground?


ACLU. "Words from Prison."

Adams, Char. These women survived abuse and assault. Now they're behind bars. Should they be?Vox. 2019. 20828367/cyntoia-brown-sexual-domestic abuse-prison-pipeline

Baird, Julia. Gleeson, Hayley. Why are our prisons full of domestic violence victims?" 2019. full-of-domestic violence-victims/10599232

CNN. Education vs prison costs." infographic economy education-vs-prison-costs/

Davis, Angela. Are Prisons Obsolete?" Chapter 1.

Jacobson, Carol. When Justice is Battered.

Joseph, George. "NYPD Commander's Text Messages Show How the Quota System Persists." 2018. -show-how-the-quota-system-persists/_

Kushner, Rachel. Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind.The New York Times. 2019. prison-abolition-ruth-wilson-gilmore.html

Law, Victoria. Against Carceral Feminism." https:/ 2014/10 against carceral-feminism

Policy Basics: Where Do Our State Tax Dollars Go?" 2018. state budget-and-tax Policy-basics-where-do-our state-tas-dollars-go

Sawyer, Wendy. Who's helping the 1.9 million women released from prisons and jails each year?Prison Policy Initiative. 2019. https://www.prison reentry/

Small, Julie. #MeToo Behind Bars: Records Shed Light on Sexual Abuse Inside State Women's Prisons.KQED. 2019. Metoo-behind-bars-new-records-shed-light-on sexual-abuse-inside-state-womens-prisons

Vera Institute of Justice. "The Price of Prisons." 2012. downloads Publications Price-of-prisons-what-incarceration-costs-taxpayers legacy downloads/price-of-prisons-updated-version-021914.p

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