The Impact of Incarceration on African-American Families: A Focus on African-American Women Prisoners.


Lanita Morris

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African-American women constitute a highly disproportionate amount of the California female prison population. Other statistics show that within the past twenty years, these numbers have continued to rise, making young women of color, particularly black women, the fastest growing prison population of today. The nation has declared a war on drugs and crime, instituted harsh three strikes' legislation and mandatory sentencing laws to "protect" its citizens, when all the while its harming them more than anything. Most of the women incarcerated today were arrested for non-violent crimes. The life stories of the inmates, including those highlighted in this project, provide insight into this phenomenon, documenting the detrimental impact incarceration has, not only on the inmate, but on the stability of the inmate's family as well. In the case of incarcerated women, of whom the majority are single parents, children in these families perhaps feel the most pain as they are forced to live under the care of surrogate parents either in the form of grandparents or foster parents. Unfortunately, the more dollars we funnel into targeting criminals, the less we spend on figuring out what's creating these high numbers in such a short period of time. More importantly, fewer dollars are being spent on educating our children, lessening the chances of perpetuating this dreadful cycle.


K. Gross




Support provided by:James Irvine Foundation

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