I lost my parental rightswhile I was in prison.
F e l o n
After 44 months Iwas released. I waslabeled a felon forlife.
No one would hire me. I had no where to live.
I sold my body to survive on thestreets. I did drugs to survivethe trauma I endured at thehands of countless men and thepolice. No one would help me.
Eventually Iwas arrested again and sentback toprison.
The Adoption andSafe FamiliesAct allowsthe statetoterminateparentalrightsif achildhas beenin fostercare15 out ofthe last 22 months.Almost 2/3 ofwomen in prisonare mothers.Spending time in prison and/or receiving a felony convictionmakes getting a job much more dif-ficult. If women are convicted fel-ons and under community supervisionthey often have little or no accessto food stamps, public housing, orsocial services. They also receivelittle or no job training, ortraining in fields that are lowpaying. This means thatmaking a “living wage” isnearly impossible. Womenwith children are espe-cially penalized. Theyoften prioritize the needfor child care andfamily reunificationover employment.
p a t r i a rc h y
V i o l e n c e
Once women are arrested their lives are destroyed. While for some women it may be the first chance they have
h ad t o g e t ac c e s s t o h e al t h c ar e , me n t al h e al t h s e r v i c e s , d e n t al c ar e , an d s ub s t an c e ab us e t r e at me n t , t h e af t e r af f e c t s o f p r i s o n ar e d e v as t at i n g &l o n g -l as t i n g .
If we could divert the moneyour country is pouring into theprison industrial complex to pro-vide more socialservices to vulnerablepopulations, legislate laws toend violence against women,support outreach services, shel-ters, counseling,protection, and education thatwould be the beginning of turn-ing the tide in favor of a morejust and humane solution tocrime andpunishment.Most women are incarceratedfor non-violent offenses. Com-munity treatment options, ac-cess to mental and physicalhealth care, substance abusecounseling, safe and depend-able child care, trauma inter-vention and treatment, andeconomic support would reducerecidivism by a large marginamong women who have beenincarcerated.WE must work toabolish prescribed gender roles,and racism. We need to recog-nize the resilience and wisdomthat women possess when theyare safe and feel likeproductive members of ourcommunities.Finally we need desperately tounderstand and examine therole of racism,heternormativity, and poverty inour current models ofpunishment and socialcontrol. Women of color, sexualminorities, and poor people aredoubly punished by our system.If we could work to take downthe Prison Industrial Complexit would improve public safetyand make our communities morelivable for everyone, especiallywomen and children.
[W]omen prisoners aretwice marginalized, invisible in the“free” world by virtue of their incarceration, andlargely overlooked even by prison activist by virtueof their gender… Challenging the hyperinvisibility ofwomen prisoners is central to effective activist andacademic work around issues of imprisonment…” Angela Davis (1999)