The New Statesman on Why the US Criminal Justice System Locks Up So Many Women
Date:  04-02-2020

The notoriously high prison population in the US is starting to decline - so why is the number of jailed women rising?
From The New Statesman US:

On her daughter’s wedding day in 2003, Anisah Sabur-Mumin was in the third year of a four-year prison sentence for a variety of drug offences. She phoned her partner for news on the wedding and was sobbing down the line when she was summoned to start her shift working in the prison kitchens. As she hung up, a guard asked her what was wrong. After Sabur-Mumin repeatedly insisted she was fine and didn’t want to talk about it, the guard sentenced her to 30 days of solitary confinement. The United Nations considers solitary confinement for more than 15 days torture.

Sabur-Mumin can share many horror stories from her two four-year prison sentences. Harsh and arbitrary punishments were not unusual: research by US media group National Public Radio shows that women in prisons are disciplined between twice and three times as often as men, often for smaller infractions. The 60-year-old campaigner from the Bronx, New York, also described overcrowding, frequent fights, pervasive harassment and sexual abuse from guards, alongside the heartbreak of witnessing traumatised and mentally ill women struggle without help. Determined that her second prison stay would be her last, she signed up for as many prison programmes as possible and found solace in the faith-based organisations that worked with the prison. In 2000 she converted from Christianity to Islam, taking a name chosen for her by her Islamic sisters: Anisah means “woman” or “friendly and kind” in Arabic, Sabur “patience”, Mumin “believer”. Continue reading >>>