Many prisoners in "supermax" prison units in the US are kept in solitary confinement for decades. The government says these are prisoners who have proved too violent or unco-operative to be kept in a normal cell, who are members of prison gangs, or occasionally, who have been put there for their own protection.
There are no windows. The rooms are a little larger than a double bed.
The prison within a prison
Prisoners get 90 minutes of exercise a day. The rest of the time is spent staring at the steel door and the smooth concrete walls - or the television. Although the environment is cosmetically different from the "holes" in which hostages and prisoners like Tabir are kept, the effects of isolation are similar.
Those inmates not affected by this "isolation panic" may still slip into long-term depression and hopelessness. Then the environment takes its toll on cognitive ability, as the prisoners' intellectual skills begin to decay. They may suffer lapses in memory. At the most extreme, prisoners could even undergo a complete breakdown. The first thing they should do is take control of their space, says David Alexander, a psychiatrist and trauma expert. He is the principal adviser to Hostage UK, a charity that helps victims of kidnap.
Very often hostages will be kept in conditions similar to Tabir's, without toilets or washing facilities. You start scraping the filth to one end. You designate one corner for pee. Pee runs downhill so don't put your pee corner at the top of the room. He recommends creating a "living quarter" within the cell, to be kept as clean as possible. Prisoners should also try to keep themselves clean, he says. With no communication for days on end and a complete loss of contact with the outside world, hostages and prisoners sometimes wonder whether they still exist.
Tabir spent the nights talking or singing to himself to recapture a sense of his physical presence. At his most desperate, he found himself picking fights with his guards. In the US prison system, this is called a "cell extraction". A prisoner will refuse to comply with his orders, for example by holding on to his food tray when a guard tries to clear it away.
The inevitable result - four or five armed guards come to the cell and forcibly restrain him. It may be brutal, but it's a form of human contact. What they want, he says, is for prisoners to slip into what clinicians refer to as "learned helplessness". This is the feeling that whatever prisoners do will end in failure. Like Tabir, Andre - who wishes to be known just by his first name - was kept for months in solitary confinement for his political views, this time in Eastern Europe.
He experienced a series of gut-wrenching false dawns.
Incarceration of women in the United States
Time and again his captors said they would release him, but each time it turned out he was just being relocated to a different prison. You have to keep yourself in one piece. Andre learned to manage his feelings, and kept himself busy, reading for hours on end. He also kept his mind active by constructing haiku poems, at times spending the whole day puzzling over which three lines most perfectly captured a memory or a feeling.
A day came when the surprise was that he was free to leave. Both acts integrated the workforce, and after the acts passed male employees gained increasingly direct contact with female prisoners. Prison System , argued that in theory gender equality makes sense in all occupations, but in practice having male guards watch over female prisoners is problematic. There are many socioeconomic factors that foster the cycle of mass incarceration. First, the impacts of globalization and economic restructuring on low-income communities. Second, the War on Drugs. Third, the role of globalization in fueling migration from the global South, the criminalization of migration, and growth of immigrant incarceration.
Lastly, emergence of a prison-industrial complex, a relationship between corporate and governmental interests that has led to prison expansion in the U. Women of color also feel pressured to fit into the 'norm' of what social life should be for women i. This often leads to their conforming and accepting abusive relationships or adapting to their partner's expectations.
For example, women who suffer from substance abuse are mainly subjected to it by their partner. Studies showed that women, in fact, believe that engaging in such destructive activities would create a stronger emotional bond, as well as put a halt to the abuse they consistently endure. They assume that because their relationship is going downhill, it must be a failure on their part and decide to make a change, usually for the worse. The disadvantages of black men in society also affect the outcome of women; they have to take on the role of the breadwinner and often, when not making enough, lead to taking alternatives such as involvement with drugs, theft, and prostitution.
This of course, leads to their incarceration. The "profile" that surfaces of the black female offender is "that of a young, uneducated, single mother. She is likely to be unemployed, with few marketable skills, and is more likely to be on welfare". They are characterized as "compelled to crime". Men make up the majority of prisoners in the United States , approximately ten times as many as women in ,  but the growth rate for women has been dramatically higher than the growth rate for men over the past few decades, a difference that is especially pronounced in state facilities.
Mumola It is likely that men like women experienced traumatic events in their childhood, but research has shown that women experience a higher rate of trauma. Because many states have only one female facility, in comparison to having numerous men's facilities, women are forced to stay in that one specific facility. Those who take care of the children with an incarcerated mother where the mother is the primary caregiver , the financial costs of raising that incarcerated mother's children limits the amount of resources people send to the mother in prison.
Incarcerated women also use prison libraries differently from the way male prisoners do.
For Survivors of Prison Rape, Saying ‘Me Too’ Isn’t an Option
In general, women are less likely to use the law library to "seriously research their own cases. Often, incarcerated women are seeking information about marital law and child custody and support in prison libraries. Women on death row have a relatively low chance of actually being executed: there have only been documented executions from to Although California is the top state for death sentences, no woman has been executed since Overall, incarcerated populations are more likely than the general population to have a mental illness.
Typically, women suffer from mood and anxiety disorders, whereas men are more likely to have issues regarding substance abuse and antisocial personalities. Jails and prisons experience mental illness at different rates and offer different resources, meaning the inmate experience with mental health issues in a jail versus a prison will differ, either negatively or positively.
This makes it difficult to treat women due to issues, such as appropriate doses of drugs. In addition, many women have multiple illnesses at once, such as substance abuse, trauma, and mental health issues, making it difficult to diagnose mental health issues alone. Treatment programs seek to provide women with community services that will help them with food, clothing, health care, and educational needs.
The mental stress women go through in prison has a toll on them after they are released. Lynch Journal of Family Violence discuss the mental traumas women have before they have been incarcerated state prisons and the possible causes for their incarceration. Female offenders have a higher rate of IPV than men and women from the general public.
Of the women in state prisons in , according to the publication, one third committed their crimes in order to buy drugs. Historically, sexual abuse within the prison and jail system has been prevalent as seen through years of sexual exploitation of incarcerated women by prison and jail administrators and guards. Sexual abuse and rape can happen to all demographic groups within the prison system, but those belonging the LGBT community or people with mental illness are more heavily targeted. Three percent of the people in this study have experience a completed rape inside prison.
The same study shows that women are less likely than men to be forcibly abused, but more likely to be persuaded. Broadly similar ratios applied to jails.
The study noted that often female inmates suffered a history of sexual abuse or physical abuse in their childhood. Male correctional officials can often violate women prisoners' privacy by watching them undress, shower, and go to the bathroom. Research suggests that "women with histories of abuse are more likely to accept sexual misconduct from prison staff because they are already conditioned to respond to coercion and threats by acquiescing to protect themselves from further violence". Two prominent prison reforms for sexual abuse have come about in the last 20 or so years. It took all of this evidence for the BOP to finally criminalize sexual contact as a felony in , so that guards can actually face up to five years in prison".
Fifteen per cent were actually allowed to keep their jobs". Despite such legislative progress, women are fully dependent on the guards for basic necessities and privileges, and in many states, guards have access to inmates' personal history files which can empower them to threaten prisoners' children if the women retaliate. The structure and system of the US prison system does not adequately accommodate for these healthcare needs. Since women are not given the proper healthcare once inside prisons, their health tends to keep deteriorating as time progresses. For example, at many institutions women must wait in lines under strenuous conditions until designated times for most medical treatments and medications.
Medical treatment oftentimes needs to be requested and approved by correctional officers who have little or no medical training. Overcrowding and poor environmental facilities exacerbate the problem. Studies show that "women's [prison] facilities are typically even more substandard and stressful from an environmental point of view than men's facilities". Other barriers include the lack of research being conducted specific to the needs of incarcerated women , including but not limited to the cultural and language barriers that women can face when trying to communicate their health issues.
There are two main reasons that may account for the incompetent provisions regarding the health of women imprisoned in the prison-industrial complex , which are the view of women's prisons being a profiting industry and the change from a welfare state to a crime control state. Often times with surgical procedures, the women may not be informed of what was performed or the reason why.
In the National Institute of Corrections said that American prison systems did not adequately provide gynecological services. During that year half of the state prison systems surveyed by the institute provided female-specific health care services, including mammograms and pap smears.
Amnesty International said that, in the systems offering those services, many women encountered long waiting lists. Within the American prison system, HIV became more prevalent among women than among men. According to the U. At the end of the year women in U. Data from show that female incarceration rates are growing more rapidly than male incarceration rates in the United States.
Less than half of prisons in the United States have official policies about medical care for pregnant inmates. Throughout the United States, pregnant inmates are treated poorly by prison staff because there is a permeating prejudice that pregnant inmates are not "worthy enough to have children". For example, thirty-five states allow women to be chained to the bed while in labor and giving birth. In states where shackling is illegal, there are a significant amount of lawsuits claiming that shackling was used during childbirth. Researchers have argued that allowing women to remain shackled to a bed during birth is inhumane and undignified.
Pregnancy among inmates is a challenge. In the United States, the prison system was designed to accommodate male inmates. Gamble , , which declared entitlement to basic health care for all people who are incarcerated, provision of adequate prenatal care in US prisons has been inconsistent at best. In addition, prisons have the power to hold incarcerated women and limit their contact with the outside world, which can result in women not being able to exercise their reproductive rights, such as getting an abortion.
Women who are in jail or prison often have very high-risk pregnancies due to a higher prevalence of risk factors, which can negatively influence both pregnancy and delivery. Prenatal care in prisons is erratic. Prenatal care for incarcerated women is a shared responsibility between medical staff in the prison and community providers, but specific delineation of care is determined locally, depending on available resources and expertise. In addition, some states continue to use shackles for security during transportation, labor, delivery, and postpartum care.
Shackles are typically used for inmates, who demonstrate risk of elopement, harm to self, or harm to others. Historically, they have also been used with women attending prenatal care appointments, as well as during labor and delivery. When used during transit, the use of shackles on the ankles and wrists puts a mother at risk of falling, in which case she would be unable to reach out to soften the fall. In turn, this could put both the mother and the fetus at risk of injury.
Shackles can also interfere with labor and delivery, prohibiting positions and range of motion for the mother, doctors, and nurses. In addition, women feel ashamed and discriminated against when they are shackled in a community hospital. There has been significant strides in maintaining and protecting the constitutional rights of pregnant inmates. Correctional Medical Services ruled in that shackling pregnant women to the bed during labor and delivery is unconstitutional. This decision was rendered after twenty-nine-year-old Nelson was taken to a local hospital in and had her legs shackled to opposite sides of the bed.
She was shackled to the bed for several hours while in labor before she was taken to the hospital room. Nelson claimed the shackles caused her intense pain, discomfort, and severe cramps. She also was unable to change positions while in labor, which caused further discomfort.
Although she remained the shackles were removed while she was delivering her child, they were immediately put back on post-delivery. Nelson also claimed that after delivering her child, she soiled the bed sheet because she could not get to the bathroom on time due to the shackles. This judicial decision also deemed that the officer in charge of presiding over Nelson during her labor and delivery deliberately acted indifferently.
As a result, the court ruled that showing indifference during a woman's labor and delivery or inflicting unnecessary pain or discomfort also violates the Eighth Amendment. Another important landmark case was Boswell v. Sherburne County. Wanda Boswell was booked in Sherbrune County Jail in Minnesota for driving under the influence of alcohol.
A female prison guard, Valerie Lero, found out that Boswell was about six months pregnant, and she was informed by Boswell that her pregnancy had been having some complications. Boswell also provided Lero some information regarding a fainting incident that happened a few days before her arrest. Boswell also told Lero that she had large amounts of vaginal discharge.
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While in the Sherburne County Jail, Boswell had been taking a shower and noticed she had been bleeding. She immediately informed Lero of the bleeding, and Lero proceeded to give Boswelll sanitary pads. However, Lero showed no sense of urgency or took any sort of initiative to contact professional medical personnel.
Lero also did not record any of the health issues Boswell has expressed. In addition, Lero failed to contact Nancy Riecken, the relief jailer, to inform her of Boswell's medical condition. Finally, Boswell took matters into her own hands and contacted Riekcken. Boswell wanted to see a doctor immediately due to her abnormal bleeding and severe abdominal cramping.
Riecken, despite knowing the extent of Boswell's medical condition, failed to seek medical help because she claimed Boswell could not seek medical attention until she posted bail. This entire time, Boswell was locked in her cell and continuously banged on the wall for help. Riecken, who had taken over at this time, still refused Boswell's requests for medical attention. Hours passed and still no one was contacted to help Boswell. Riecken contacted the chief jailer who instructed Riecken to reach out to the two other counties where Boswell had outstanding warrants.
In other words, the prison personnel left Boswell in her cell cramping and bleeding, just waiting for someone to take Boswell off their hands. Finally, a local police officer and trained emergency room technician examined Boswell and told Riecken to immediately call an ambulance. Boswell proceeded to give birth in an ambulance en route to the hospital. Joseph Boswell was born in the hospital but died thirty-four minutes later. Boswell brought an action pursuant to 42 U. She claimed her constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment were violated. The court found that both Riecken and Lero knew Boswell was bleeding and had severe cramps, yet failed to take action to reach out to medical professionals.
Boswell's "clearly established right to medical care" was evidently violated. The court found Lero and Riecken responsible for this negligence. Under the Eight Amendment, prisons are required to provide adequate medical care. The structure of US justice systems makes development of maternal attachment nearly impossible. After the births of their children, many women are returned to the jail or prison, and their infant immediately enters foster or kinship care.
Some prisons have nurseries for the mother and child. Women are only eligible to participate in a prison nursery if they are convicted of non-violent crimes and do not have a history of child abuse or neglect. Prison nurseries vary widely, but they provide an opportunity to breastfeed during a sensitive stage in development. They also provide time for a maternal attachment to be formed.
Rates of recidivism are less for women who participated in prison nursery programs. An improvement from the alternative, prison nurseries still leave many gaps in care. Women have undergone forced sterilization which prohibits them from having children later in life.
Prison can have an effect on relationships between prisoners and their children. As a general rule, except for with an experimental trial, a couple cannot enter the same prison. However, prisons have a problem with child care. Seven million, or 1 in 10 children, have a parent under criminal justice supervision—in jail or prison, on probation, or on parole. However, "separation from and concern about the well-being of their children are among the most damaging aspects of prison for women, and the problem is exacerbated by a lack of contact".
Mothers in prison typically are unable to fulfill the role of mother due to the separation. Incarcerated mothers are restricted in their decision-making power and their ability to create a sense of home and family within the institution is limited. Children of incarcerated mothers are consistent with their high risk status and it can cause their intellectual outcomes to be compromised.
Recent legislation has further impeded an incarcerated mother's ability to sustain custody of her children. The Adoption and Safe Families Act , enacted in , "authorizes the termination of parental rights once a child has been in foster care for 15 or more months of a month period. Incarcerated women serve an average of 18 months in prison.
Therefore, the average female prisoner whose children are placed in foster care could lose the right to reunite with her children upon release". A study found that "termination proceedings involving incarcerated parents increased from approximately in , the year of ASFA's enactment, to in ". By examining post-incarcerated mothers, it is statistically and clinically proven that there is a positive effect of a healthy mother-child relationship and depression symptoms.
There is also a positive effect of healthy peer and partner relationships on raising self-esteem for mothers who were previously incarcerated. This suggests that healthy relationships are essential to recovery from trauma and emotional well-being. The incarceration of parents affect family structures. When the paternal figure of a home is convicted, children are affected, but they don't experience the same kind of attachment disparity as they do with their mothers.
Children who grow up without their parents tend to have a higher chance of engaging in "substance abuse and addiction, mental illness, and abusive familial relationships". There are limited employment opportunities after incarceration. Women in the US criminal justice system are marginalized by race and class. Single mothers with low income go into the "underground economies" because of their inability to find a job that is stable and provides a good earning. Bureau of Justice reported that about , children under 18 had incarcerated mothers and that 1.
Hispanic children experience parental incarceration at nearly three times the rate that white children do Glaze and MAruchak  Children feel the mother absences and experience disruption more than the absences of their incarcerated father. Caregivers and teachers see the child of inmates fighting more and becoming aggressive leading them to have a higher risk of conviction. Most prisons do not have public transport, restrictive policies governing visits and phone calls. Prisons have policies such as the removal of infants born to women in prison, speedy termination of child custody for incarcerated women, restrictive welfare policies that make it difficult for families to be reunited, and women repeated periods in custody.
One guideline that would help is a family connections policy framework to support and strengthen the relationship between incarcerated women and their children. There is 6.
My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Investigation – Mother Jones
Caregivers and teachers see the children of criminals fighting more and becoming aggressive leading them to have a higher risk of conviction. Prisons prevent contact between the mothers and their children in many ways. The locations of the prisons might not have a public transport, restrictive policies governing visits and phone calls, the removal of infants born to women in prison, speedy termination of child custody for incarcerated women, restrictive welfare policies that make it difficult for families to be reunited, and women repeated periods in custody.
The most common age range for incarcerated parents is from age 25 to 35, followed by age 35 to 44 and age 24 and younger. The most common age range for children with at least one incarcerated parent is from 0—9 years old, followed by children from 10 to 17 years old. Difficulties with employment, housing, and ostracism can decrease successful transitions and lead to a cycle in and out of prison. Some concerns that are faced by policy-makers and correction officials about women re-entering into the community after prison are motherhood and the struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues.
Scholars have found that women face negative perceptions such as being seen as inadequate and unable to provide a stable, loving home for their children when they are transitioning back from prison into motherhood. This separation of children from their mothers is harmful to both the child and mother and this is the main reason for stress inside of women prisons. For many women getting out of prison, the only aspect of life they consider to be motivating and hopeful is resuming motherhood and connecting with their children again.
Without their children, many see no reason to stay away from drugs or prostitution. Women in these circumstances are understood to have a better life if they are offered proper nutritional and medical care so they could lead a more stable lifestyle. The struggle of addiction whether it be alcohol or drug abuse along with mental health issues are considered the three major factors that influence the success of women's transition back into the community.
Women tend to take out their anger on themselves and in a self-mutilating or abusive way. Mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, are seen to be more common among women than men. A study from found that 19 percent of women who suffer from depression, 31 percent of women who suffer from phobic disorders, and 7 percent of women that suffer from panic disorder also struggled with alcohol abuse.
Women who have been released from prison face the struggle against addiction and could end up losing their children because of it. In order for women to successfully transition back into society, they must begin this preparation process at the beginning of their sentence.
Although this is recommended, inmates tend to not have any preparation before being placed back into the community. All of the released women have tasks they must complete in order to re-establish a place in society and in order to stay out of trouble. Without support from the community, women under these circumstances tend to fall back into drugs or criminal activity. There are programs that have been established to help women after they are released from prison.
System organizations that are used to help women's reentry into the community consist of mental health, alcohol and drug programs, programs to help survivors and sexual violence, family services, food shelters, financial help programs, employment services, child care services, and community service clubs. A continuity-of-care approach is taken when forming these programs for women.
This is the providing of treatment, recovery, and support services throughout the entire process of reentry for women. These programs help women to not feel depressed or overwhelmed by the community once they are allowed to reenter them. There are two agencies that help these women as well, more well known as a settlement house. Despite all the things that incarcerated women endure prior to, during, and after their imprisonment, people often have a certain mindset regarding who they are.
This is as a result of the inaccuracy the media uses to portray women who are detained; perpetuating the idea that there is nothing more to them than violence and sexual tension. The media's tendency to highlight the aspects of prison life that they deem suitable or entertaining for viewers really serves to belittle and shed attention away from the real issues that incarceration has on the women living their 'truth'.
The way that these women are portrayed in the media is crucial to our understanding of their struggles and our ability to empathize with the traumatic experience that is serving time in prison. Instead, they are portrayed with a 'babes behind bars' theme. Films such as The Big Doll House , The Big Bird Cage and Caged Heat are examples of movies that depict these women as sex-crazed and distort our knowledge from the more universal and serious issues that come with being incarcerated.
Because we live in a patriarchal society, women are viewed as objects for intercourse, and their issues are not taken as severely as we would that of males. Very little factual representation is contained in these films. It is Hollywood, after all; they do not necessarily seek to educate—instead they aim to titillate:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Mental health among female offenders in the United States. This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page.
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