Culture

#OITNB has opened us to the harsh reality of Women for prison?

The war on drugs may have cost the United States government an approximate one trillion dollars, but the amount of money used to combat the war on drugs has done little to curb or possibly end the influx of drugs into the country. The irony is that this war on drugs costs tax payers more each year. With the increase of taxes and 40 years since the war on drugs began there has been little to show for, as half of the 2.3 million inmates currently in the prison system are or have a history of substance abuse and addiction.

Surprisingly, 50% of all drugs and drug related arrests are for marijuana. Women in jail have become an increasing factor in the prison system. The numbers are now at a staggering 757%. Abuse of women in prison has also become an increasing problem as over 50% of women in prison have reported physical and or sexual abuse before their imprisonment. This is incredibly higher than the 10% of male s reporting the same problem.

Another issue is that, according to the “Mothers Behind Bars,” The Rebecca Project for Human Rights and National Women’s Law Center: October 2015:

  1. 43 States do not require any medical examinations as a part of the prison prenatal care programs.
  2. 48 States do not offer HIV screening for pregnant prisoners.
  3. 31 states do not consult or require any information and opinions of medical staff when pertaining to matters regarding restraints for pregnant prisoners who are in labor.

Issues like this have become a problem for the overall health of the babies born while their mothers are in the prison system.

Race also plays a key factor in the findings of women who are incarcerated. According to “Fact Sheet: Women in Prison and the Drug War” Drug Policy Alliance:

Women of color are more likely to be incarcerated than Caucasian women. In fact Black women are 3.8 times more likely to be incarcerated and Latino women are 1.6 times more likely to be incarcerated when compared to their white counterparts. An even more chilling fact is that a black woman is 4.8 times more likely to be sent to prison due to a drug violation when compared to their white counterparts.

On the subject of pregnancy and drugs in prison, it was found that both black and white women take drugs virtually at the same rate, the expecting black mothers are unfortunately 10 times more likely to be reported by the authorities to child welfare for the use of drugs while pregnant.

With these findings, it is fair to conclude that those children whose mothers have been incarcerated and reported to child welfare end up in foster homes or with a relative. The number is 10% of the children with mothers in a correctional facility or prison no longer live in their parent home. Majority of these reported children are from minority groups, yet nationally Caucasians – both male and female – represent the 62% of substance and drug abuse treatment admissions.

The prison and drug industries are a growing problem with big business on both sides of the spectrum. Overcrowding, unfair treatment and inmates being incarcerated wrongfully, it is a wonder why the war on drugs has cost tax payers so much, and the problem keeps getting worse.

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