NewsCalifornia's Women's Incarceration Progress: Work Needed

California’s Women’s Incarceration Progress: Work Needed

California has the distinction of being the state with the highest rate of women sentenced to life in prison.

Despite improvements, Black women and Indigenous American women remain the most incarcerated groups.

The report concludes that California needs to step up.

“Policymakers must do more to address the racist policies and practices that have created and sustained racial disparities. A companion publication to this report will outline an array of policy options, including reforming sentencing policies; strengthening behavioral health intervention and treatment; addressing the structural barriers that block communities of color from economic and health opportunities; and reducing prison and police budgets and using the savings to fund investments in communities of color and justice system reforms,” the report reads.

It continues, “Advancing antiracist policies would help to improve the lives of Californians of color, including American Indian, Black, Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander communities, which have long faced discrimination and continue to be exposed to the damaging effects of racism inside and outside of the justice system.”

“There are dramatic differences in incarceration rates within communities, often along racial and economic lines. For example, in Los Angeles the 14 neighborhoods with the highest imprisonment rates are clustered in South Central Los Angeles, where 57% of residents are Latino, 38% are Black, and 2% are white. Meanwhile, the L.A. neighborhoods with the lowest imprisonment rates are mostly in the predominately white and wealthier Westside region.”

The report also called for the passage of the BREATHE Act in California, a bill proposed by the Movement For Black Lives created to radically reconceptualize how public safety, community care, and money meet in society.

The report identified five categories of incarcerated women: those unrecognized as victims or survivors, traumatized by criminal procedure, affected by racist and sexist law and order politics, sentenced by prison and parole authorities, and sentenced to a lifetime behind bars.

These various studies point to the need for California to address racial disparities in its criminal justice system.

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Source: Black Enterprise


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