Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

The number of women in prison skyrocketed in the last thirty years, both in absolute terms and relative to the number of men in prison. There is a lack of alternatives to incarceration available to women, and women and girls suffer abusive conditions of confinement in ways both similar and different from male prisoners. In addition, women and girls in prison are often deprived of equal resources, housed in remote areas far from family, provided inadequate educations, and denied necessary physical and mental health care. More

Further, the over-incarceration and over-conviction of women has devastating effects on them and their families because of the barriers women face as a result of their criminal records. These barriers include employment discrimination (compounded by the trend among employers of conducting background checks), exclusions from certain occupations (including some traditionally dominated by low-income women, such as home health care and childcare), exclusions from housing, and bans on receiving public assistance.

The ACLU is working to reduce the over-incarceration of women and girls, ensure equal rights and dignity while in confinement, and eliminate barriers imposed as a result of having a criminal record.

Additional Resources

Puerto Rico Girls’ Detention Facility Withholding Information about Alleged Abuse, Says ACLU (2011 press release): In July 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Puerto Rico filed a lawsuit against the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections demanding information about allegations of the abuse of girls – including solitary confinement for girls who practice self-harm and sexual contact by staff – at a juvenile detention facility near the city of Ponce.

Immigrants in Detention: Forgotten Victims of Prison Rape (2011 blog): Imagine you are arrested — not for committing a crime, but because of your immigration status. You are then taken to an unfamiliar location and locked up in a detention center, far away from your family and friends, to await complicated, confusing, and potentially very lengthy and confusing deportation proceedings. Most of your interactions are in English, your second (or perhaps even fourth) language. You don't have any legal representation to explain what your rights are or how to apply for relief you may be eligible to receive. And in the midst of this stressful time, you are sexually assaulted by a guard — the very person assigned to protect you from harm. What would you do? Would you tell someone, or stay silent for fear that speaking up might increase your chances of deportation or further abuse? If you decided to come forward, whom would you tell, or trust?

Rhode Island Stands Up For Pregnant Women in Prison: Says No to Shackling (2011 blog)

The War on Drugs = A War on Women and Families (2011 blog)

ACLU v. Molina-Rodriguez – Complaint (2011 PDF)

Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) (2011 resource)

"So, an ACLU Attorney, a Sheriff, and a Pro-Lifer Walk Into a Bar..." (2011 blog)

We Can End Prison Rape (2011 blog)

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