Looking at the statistics provided by the Status of Black Women (SOBW) one will notice the outrageous difference between the number of black women being incarcerated over the years to white women in the US. It is quite disheartening to see that the number of black women undergoing correctional supervision is twice the number of their white counterparts. What is more heartrending is the fact that most spend more time behind bars than necessary when considering the offences committed.
Let’s take the example of two women, Missy and Blackman. Missy spent over 7 years in jail for insurance fraud. Her story is that she worked for a close friend referring people with old or broken cars for insurance purposes. Little did she know her old acquaintance was committing insurance fraud. Blackman on the other hand got time for selling narcotics. When asked to tell her story she said she had no idea her boyfriend at the time was into drugs. All she did was deliver mails to his friend who she thought had mailbox issues.
These are just two out of the huge number who SOBW researchers have concluded are spending or have spent time behind bars due to stereotypes, victimization and racism. The research carried out states that the tendency to be incarcerated for a black woman begins in school. Between 2011 and 2012 about 45% of the girls suspended from public schools in the US were black. Of the total number of girls expelled, black girls made up an alarming 42%.
There has been a general spike in the number of women incarcerated in the US since 1980. It was 26,000 then and by 2017 it had risen to 219,000. This geometric increase has had its toll on black women more than any other race present in the US, especially young black women. These statistics show that at the current rate of incarceration, very soon 1 in every 18 black women will have spent some time in correctional facilities at some point in their lives.
Among the challenges that rise from incarceration are low birth weight, infant mortality, poor health, and preterm birth. The truth of the matter is that most of these women are just looking for a way to survive, just like the two women whose stories were stated earlier.
Please note the names used above are just fictions to protect the identity of the individuals.
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