Mothers are the most-honored family members around the world for their selflessness and the love they give to their children. That’s why this year, NewsOne will provide a number of daily posts about Mothers until Mother’s Day. Enjoy!
According to a 2009 report from the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) Institute On Women & Criminal Justice, a whopping 75 percent of imprisoned women are Mothers. Unlike the disproportionate numbers in male prisons, White women make up the majority of female prisoners at 45 percent, according to the WPA’s findings. Black women accounted for 32 percent, while Hispanic women came in last at 16 percent. However, recent arrests of Black women, especially Mothers, may skew the facts as there appears to be a growing trend that suggests numbers are increasing for women of color.
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According to an older NAACP Legal Defense Fund report, Black women were incarcerated at rate increase of 828 percent over a five-year period. The report found that African-American women were eight times more likely to be imprisoned than their European counterparts. Additionally, Black women make up nearly half of the prison population, with many in jail over minor offenses or nonviolent drug-related charges. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) released a rough estimate that states about 9 percent of women in prison are pregnant, a number that certainly will fluctuate at any time.
Watch the Kelley Williams-Bolar case here:
Black Mothers have been unfairly treated in the court of law, with judges handing down sentences for charges that normally wouldn’t garner prison time. Homeless Ohio Mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was made an example of after being sentenced for 10 days in jail and three years’ probation, when she was caught sending her kids to a different school district outside her zoning area. Additionally, first-time drug offenders, such as Mother of four Tonya Drake, who was given 10 years of prison time for her role in attempting to mail 232 grams of crack cocaine.
These cases are just a smattering of the incidents involving Black women and the extreme punishment levied upon them.
Black women in prison not only suffer under the weight of discrimination, but like all women, the threat of sexual assault and rape at the hands of male prison guards is an ongoing issue. Although many editorials have been crafted about the abject torture and mistreatment of women in prison, little is being done about it in the higher courts.
However, groups such as WPA and Amnesty International have taken huge steps to increase the awareness of the horrors and injustices incarcerated women are facing. Still, the numbers show little signs of slowing, and Black mothers — already at risk abroad — face even greater challenges ahead incarcerated or not.