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April 28, 2016

Candidate Clinton promises to "institute gender-responsive policies in the federal prison system and encourage states to do the same"

Ap_clinton_lb_151013_12x5_1600Yesterday in this post I sought readers' perspectives on whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would likely end up being a "better" sentencing President. Perhaps realizing I am not the only wondering on this front, today CNN published this notable new commentary authored by Hillary Clinton under the headline "Women and prison -- the cost in money and lives." Here are some extended excerpts (with one sentence emphasized):

Mass incarceration has torn families apart, impoverished communities, and kept too many Americans from living up to their God-given potential.  But mass incarceration's impact on women and their families has been particularly acute — and it doesn't get the attention it deserves....

The United States' prison and jail population includes 215,000 women — nearly one-third of all female prisoners worldwide, and 800% more women than were in prison four decades ago.  African-American women are more than twice as likely to be in prison than white women.

But women aren't the only ones affected when they are sent to prison.  The high number of women in prison — and the long lengths of their sentences — destabilizes families and communities, especially their children.  Since 1991, the number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled. Mothers in prison are five times more likely than fathers in prison to have to put their children in foster care while they serve their sentences.

We can't go on like this. It is time we reform our broken criminal justice system.  First, we need to reform policing practices, end racial profiling, and eradicate racial disparities in sentencing.  Second, we need to promote alternatives to incarceration, particularly for nonviolent and first-time offenders, so families aren't broken up.  We need to improve access to high-quality treatment for substance abuse, inside and outside the prison system, because drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a crime — and we need to treat it as such.

And third, we need to be deliberate about understanding the different paths that can land women in prison, be more attentive to women's unique needs while they are incarcerated, and do more to support women and their families once they are released.  I will institute gender-responsive policies in the federal prison system and encourage states to do the same — because women follow different paths to crime than men, and face different risks and challenges both inside and outside the prison walls, and every part of the justice system, from sentencing to the conditions of confinement to re-entry services, should reflect women's unique needs. 

Research shows that women's relationships ... are often a significant risk factor for becoming involved with the justice system. Most women in prison are there because of nonviolent drug or property crimes.  Over 60% of them report drug dependence or abuse in the year before they went to prison. Many of them grew up in abusive households ... and they are more likely than men in prison to have experienced sexual abuse or trauma in their life before prison.

And too often, a woman and her children continue to live with the consequences even after she has served her time and paid her debt to society.  Because formerly incarcerated people face limited job opportunities, an entire family is effectively punished by a woman's time in prison.  "Banning the box" — preventing an employer from asking about criminal history at the initial application stage, so that individuals have a chance to compete for jobs on a fair basis — is a necessary and important step, but it isn't enough.  In addition to job training and interview coaching, women returning to their communities after years behind bars need safe housing for themselves and their children, continuity of health care, and above all a supportive community....

Women and the families they support are being crushed by a criminal justice system that costs far too much — in state and federal budgets, and in lives derailed and economic opportunity lost — without making us safer.  Too often, people are prejudiced against the formerly incarcerated — in employment, in housing, in everyday interactions.  We say we are a nation of second chances — and it's time that we act like it.

I am, generally speaking, quite supportive of "gender-responsive policies" in our criminal justice systems, particularly because there are lots of evidence-based reasons for viewing (and sentencing) most female offenders as much lesser threats to public safety than most male offenders.  That said, I am not entirely sure what specific sentencing laws and prison policies need to be changed dramatically in federal and state systems in order to make them more "gender-responsive."  Should (and legally could) a Prez Clinton institute an executive order providing that federal resources earmarked for prison treatment and post-prison reentry programs must be used first for all female federal offenders before any male offenders have access to these programs?

April 28, 2016 at 11:03 AM | Permalink


"Women and the families they support are being crushed by a criminal justice system that costs far too much — in state and federal budgets, and in lives derailed and economic opportunity lost — without making us safer. Too often, people are prejudiced against the formerly incarcerated — in employment, in housing, in everyday interactions. We say we are a nation of second chances — and it's time that we act like it."

Drivel. God, is she a dim bulb (not surprising since she failed the bar the first time around--hmmm, looks like Hillary and Michelle Obama do have something in common). Why wouldn't people be "prejudiced" against criminals? I don't particularly care to have a criminal living next door to me--does that make me worthy of calumny? Do employers want criminals working for them? Often not, since employment involves trust. Somehow I doubt Hillary would have been indifferent to a criminal living next door to Chelsea when she was growing up. Typical limousine liberal twaddle.

The other annoying thing--her blaming society for the ills of people who brought it on themselves. I go to work, pay taxes, live a law-abiding life---I don't need to be lectured by a woman who "made" $100,000 in cattle futures about how the justice system is systemically racist or how immoral it is that society, quelle horreur, looks suspiciously at those who get incarcerated.

Now, if I left my post at this, Doug would pounce and try to argue some point that Hillary made. So my pre-response is that I don't really care about whether there is some merit to Hillary's speech--her disingenuousness and her off-putting lecturing tone allow me to reject it out of hand. People with her ideas and attitude aren't to be trusted with public safety anyway.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 28, 2016 1:26:56 PM

We all know that men who commit crimes are inherently more morally blameworthy than females. This arises from the testosterone in their blood, produced by the glands in the scrotum. This is why post-op transsexuals never commit crimes. Indeed, as we see in the southern states there is a real fear that if male transsexuals are allowed to commingle with the opposite sex the decrease in criminality to women might actually be catching, like a virus. So what we really see in this message is that Hillary is trying to say that she is opposed to transsexuals, especially those like Chelsea Manning, who might infect people in prison where the females have no hope of escape. That is their "unique need"--to be free of the transsexual carrying his male criminality into the sacred precincts of the women's prison.

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 28, 2016 3:11:56 PM

The system as it exists does treat women differently than men and the system is more lenient on women offenders. The only thing where equal treatment might occur is in prostitution. I female prostitute is likely to get the same jail time as a male prostitute. But, a bent male prostitute would be treated worse than if he were catering to female customers.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Apr 28, 2016 11:00:26 PM

If Hillary's proposals advocate preferential treatment for female offenders who commit exactly the same crime as a male offender under the same circumstances, she should get whatever sentence a man would get, whether it is more lenient or more harsh. This is one of the reasons that I don't trust Hillary Clinton any more than I trust that husband of hers, "Slick (First Laddie if former Secretary of State Clinton is elected)Willie", or any of the G.O.P. candidates for President.

I want somebody who will support sentences that do not determine either gender or race. Any aggravating or mitigating circumstances must be on an individual case-by-case basis. Surely, I don't think Hillary Clinton would want one of the Manson women getting early parole just because that offender is female. Hopefully, Hillary would not be more lenient to a female offender who killed one of her loved ones any more than she would be to a male. More and more, Hillary Clinton is sounding like that right-wing misandrist (anti-male bigot), Phyllis Schlafly.

Ever since early 1993, I have grown to distrust both the Clintons especially when hubby "Slick Willie" and wife Hillary, mistreated two female candidates for Surgeon General, Lani Guanier and Jocelyn Elders. The damn Clintons never allowed these two women to present their side of the allegations against them. Thus, the American people were deprived the opportunity of hearing these two good women present their views, thanks to the Clintons. This and other issues would make me rue the day that I was dumb enough to vote for Slick Willie in 1992! I'll never make that mistake again in supporting anybody from the despicable Clinton clan!

Posted by: william r. delzell | Apr 29, 2016 6:55:37 PM

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