#StandWithHer | The Problem
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The Problem

Women with incarcerated loved ones are physically and emotionally isolated from their families, communities, and support systems; trapped in a cycle of poverty by the enormous financial burden of incarceration; and silenced by the stigma that surrounds incarceration.

Isolation + Poverty + Silence = Physical, financial, and emotional trauma.

 

This is violence against women, and it needs to end.

Mass Incarceration isolates women from their incarcerated loved ones, and from each other.

 

Mass incarceration is the collection of national, state and local laws, policies and practices that results in more than 2.2 million people locked behind bars in the United States. This is a physical deprivation: family members are physically separated from each other, sometimes by thousands of miles. That separation is enforced and amplified by policies and practices throughout jails and prisons that can make it expensive, humiliating, or impossible for families to connect with each other while a member of the family is incarcerated.

 

1 in 4 women in the US is physically separated from her family member because that family member is in jail or prison. This means that millions of women are spending years without their father, husband, daughter, or son with them at  home. We know that this isolation is devastating.

 

Because there is no nation-wide organization working to engage and mobilize women with incarcerated loved ones, it also means that women with incarcerated loved ones are isolated from each other.

Mass incarceration traps women with incarcerated loved ones in poverty.

 

The United States spends $80 billion per year to house the world’s second largest population of incarcerated people. However, this price tag does not cover the fees, fines, and other financial penalties levied upon people who are convicted upon crimes. By and large, family members pay for these: covering the cost of attorneys; helping their loved one pay the fines, fees or restitution associated with their conviction; enabling visitation by paying for flights, gas, and hotel rooms; and covering the cost of telephone calls and commissary.

 

Furthermore, since most states lack the infrastructure to help incarcerated people reenter their communities upon release, families are largely responsible for covering the necessities of housing, food, and mental and physical health care. Family members amass an average of $13,607 of debt for fines and fees alone. However, this number does not include the price that families pay in missed opportunities: the loss of an additional income in the house, the employment and education opportunities missed, and the emotional and physical toll–and concomitant costs–of separation.

Mass incarceration silences the voices of women with incarcerated loved ones.

 

Too often, we do not feel equipped to listen to stories that make us feel fear, shame or confusion. Though we have come a long way as a nation in recognizing that our criminal justice system is broken, we have not yet created a new national framework to replace our old way of thinking about “crime” and “criminals.”  Because we do not know how to hear the stories of women with incarcerated loved ones, we do not listen for them–and we actively silence them. Women with incarcerated loved ones fight an uphill battle of stigma, shame, and silencing.

 

Furthermore, since most states lack the infrastructure to help incarcerated people reenter their communities upon release, families are largely responsible for covering the necessities of housing, food, and mental and physical health care. Family members amass an average of $13,607 of debt for fines and fees alone. However, this number does not include the price that families pay in missed opportunities: the loss of an additional income in the house, the employment and education opportunities missed, and the emotional and physical toll–and concomitant costs–of separation.