One in Four Women


A new study has revealed that 1 in 4 women have a family member in prison. The study also revealed that 1 in 2 black women have an incarcerated family member.

The Du Bois Review published an article on May 20, 2015 about the “Racial Inequalities in Connectedness to Imprisoned Individuals in the United States”. The article was incredibly eye opening and exposed the tragic effects of mass incarceration on the woman who are often left alone to pick up the pieces.

In the United States, the article reports that one in four women currently has a family that is in prison. Forty-four percent of black women (just over 1 in 2.5) have an incarcerated family member, compared to 12 percent of white women. Over 6 million black women in the United States have a family member currently imprisoned. Black women have over 11 times as many imprisoned family members in prison as white women. They are also more likely to be connected to multiple people in prison.

As we can see; the racial inequalities are astounding, and the amount of women that are affected by the incarceration of family members and loved ones is striking. The study clearly reveals that women in the United States have unprecedented levels of connectedness to people in prison. With men making up 90 percent of the 2.2 million people currently incarcerated, women who have incarcerated loved ones are often left in a situation where they are raising children, managing family finances, and facing stigma in their communities and workplaces all on their own. As a result of this, women are at a greater risk for a lot of harmful health and economic outcomes.

Anita Wills, a member of Essie Justice Group, says, “In 2003, when my son Kerry was sentenced to 66 years in prison, I was devastated. I had to keep it together for my son and grandsons. I am now 68 years old and raising my 17 year old grandson. This is not how I envisioned living my retirement years.”

Terryon Cross, whose father is currently incarcerated, explains, “I’ve grown up with incarceration all around me. When my son Yancy was born, I was 16 years old. I want more than anything for my four-year-old to grow up without having to drive me to prison to see and hug our family. I don’t want him to think this is normal, even though it is happening all around us.”

This eye-opening article reveals so much insight about the effects of mass incarceration on families and loved ones, especially women, and brings attention to the fact that this group has been under-studied, and often neglected. It helps lay the groundwork for a better understanding of the consequences of mass imprisonment in the United States and its particularly devastating impact on women with incarcerated loved ones.

The Essie Justice Group is an organization that works directly with woman who have loved ones that are in prison.

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