Women's History Month and International Women's Day celebrate the strides toward dignity and equality that women have made around the world. They are also a chance to reflect on the work we still have to do, and the particular challenges faced by women at the margins, including those in the criminal justice system.
Years ago, women prisoners were second-class citizens occupying small units within men's prisons. Reformers' calls for facilities specializing in women's needs helped spur the development of women's prisons — which then needed to be filled with ever-increasing numbers of women prisoners.
Today, women are among the fastest-growing segments of the prison population. The so-called War on Drugs spurred the criminalization of women by widening the net of criminal liability to minor players, family members, and mere bystanders to drug activity. Sentencing laws have made things worse by failing to consider the many reasons women sometimes remain silent about a family member's involvement in the drug trade.
That's from Mie Lewis' "Women Prisoners, Women's History" (ACLU Blog of Rights). It's women's history month. Once upon a time, The Common Ills noted that and Black History Month. What happened? Iraq became the sole focus and we have community newsletters. So now it gets covered there. But Women's History Month was something that I really liked about The Common Ills.
It was a political website. And very few of them note women's history. Very few. It was one of those ways that we could tell this was a site where women weren't excluded.
So maybe I should be doing my part and noting women's history? Pay it forward, that sort of thing?
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"