« "Reassessing Prosecutorial Power Through the Lens of Mass Incarceration" | Main | US Sentencing Commission releases 2016 Annual Report and Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics »

March 13, 2017

A notable pitch (from a notable author) to look at criminal justice reform as a "women's issue"

The Hill today published this notable new commentary authored by Mia Love and Holly Harris under the headline "Criminal justice reform: A women’s issue." I recommend the piece in full, and here are excerpts:

The media has devoted a lot of ink and airtime to the sky-high incarceration rates here in the U.S., but sadly, that coverage often ignores a key demographic: women.  The female prison population has spiked in recent years, and since Wednesday marked International Women’s Day, we thought this would be a good time to shed more light on this disturbing trend.

Between 1980 and 2014, the number of women in prison grew by an alarming 700 percent — increasing at a rate 50 percent higher than men. Over the same period, the number of women in local jails has increased 14-fold. This impact falls disproportionately on African-American women, whose rate of imprisonment is double that of white women.

Those statistics are even more disheartening when you consider approximately 60 percent of women in prison are mothers. We need to take a serious look at what it means for those women — and the children they leave behind....

Women in the federal system are more likely to be incarcerated for a nonviolent offense.  Some 94 percent of women in federal prison are serving a sentence for nonviolent drug, property or public-order offenses, as well as 63 percent of women in state prisons.  Our system needs to do better addressing the root causes of these crimes and offering alternatives to incarceration for women who pose no grave threat to society.  We need to pursue policies that offer better access to community supervision programs and treatment instead of jail time for those with drug addictions....

While female incarceration declined 2 percentage points between 2014 and 2015, criminal-justice reform is still as critical as ever.  As the laboratories of democracy, red and blue states across our nation have enacted innovative reforms that have prioritized public safety while strengthening families, ultimately benefiting society as a whole.

We must pay more attention to the spike in female inmates and, more importantly, the emotional and financial costs of women in and out of prison.  As a society we are not only failing ourselves, we are failing our mothers, wives, and sisters.  For that reason — and so many others — we hope Congress moves comprehensive criminal-justice reform to the president’s desk in 2017.

Astute readers perhaps recall that Mia Love holds the notable distinction of being the first black Republican woman ever elected to Congress. As this post from 2014 after her election reveals, I had an inkling that Mia Love might be inclined to become an important voice in support of criminal justice reform.  This latest commentary suggests that inkling is proving accurate.

March 13, 2017 at 09:13 PM | Permalink

Comments

There were millions of violent crimes by females. They are under-prosecuted. There is gender symmetry in domestic violence. Because women are weaker, they cause less physical injury, and are less often prosecuted.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 14, 2017 4:00:53 AM

I fail to understand this mind-set. Women want equal opportunities in employment, equal roles in the military, equal pay. I don't have a problem with any of that.

But when it comes to incarceration, they suddenly don't want to be incarcerated at percentages equal to men? Locking up more women ought to be a civil rights issue.

Posted by: J.L. Peterson | Mar 14, 2017 8:38:51 AM

I just don't see the logic in the appeal to offenders as parents. I would prefer that we do everything possible to separate children from environments where criminal activity is considered an acceptable method for getting by.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Mar 14, 2017 10:22:27 AM

Doug has a fetish about what black women think, whether they be Republican or Democrats. I am not going to speculate on WHY that is the case, I'll just leave with the observation that it is true.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 14, 2017 3:50:56 PM

Soronel is quite correct.

These women are so toxic to everything within blocks of their location, children are far better off in the system or with family members who are not addicts or criminals. They drive their kids around the bend. Nothing can be done to help these children. There is zero chance in 100% of them of their ever getting better while these mothers are in their proximity. Once removed, many of these out of control children require no treatment whatsoever, and are quite average. I know of no exception today or in human history to this effect.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 14, 2017 5:50:31 PM

@Daniel. Without reading a mind, let alone a great mind, I believe Prof. B is a good teacher. He wants to keep this class awake by posting outrageous and untrue propaganda to stimulate rebuttals from the students here.

You should send Prof. Berman your Facebook link, so we can be Friends. Or,, just find me directly. Let me know who you are. I get a lot of Friend requests from South American and Asian floozies, which I have to block. I need more Friends who are not lawyers. My most recent 30 day Facebook ban is about to end, and I will be able to Friend you. I have much wider interests, some of which are mutual.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 14, 2017 5:57:19 PM

Daniel, why do you think I have "a fetish about what black women think"? I am interested in what lots of people think, and what lots of people think and say is often influenced by (and interesting because of) their unique personal and professional background and experience.

Does simply caring about what Mia Love and other women of color have to say about sentencing issues amount to a "fetish"? I do not see it that way, but would love to hear more about why you apparently do.

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 14, 2017 6:14:25 PM

@David

You wouldn't catch me dead on Facebook or any other "social media". I am somewhat scared to leave the country because I worry that ICE will think that I am trying to hide something when I show up at the gate with no phone, no computer, and a paperback book.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 15, 2017 7:30:31 PM

Wow, Daniel. How old are you, if I may ask? If you are under 80, how weird are you?

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 16, 2017 3:06:26 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB