By Elton Kelley Journalism Guild Writer
America is leading the world in incarcerating women, and this is disrupting many families across the country, the American Civil Liberties Union reports
The United States has nearly four percent of the world’s female population. But about a third of the female prisoners in the world are in the U.S., ACLU statistics show.
“When you think about the image you have of our mass incarceration crisis, it probably is not a mother who comes to mind,” the ACLU said in its May 12 web posting.
Incarcerating moms and disrupting their families is the fastest growing incarceration demographic in the country, the report says. Blacks are twice as likely to be incarcerated as Whites, the posting states.
Pretrial detainees who have not been tried or convicted of any crime make up 60 percent of women held in local jails, the story notes. Most are women who are held pending charges and cannot post bail, reported the ACLU.
“When you think about the image you have of our mass incarceration crisis, it probably is not a mother who comes to mind,”
The posting highlights the case of Faith Bartley, who spent three months in jail for misdemeanors because she couldn’t pay the $260 bail. She lost her home and employment.
Fifty-six percent of all women serving terms are doing so for drug or property offenses, ACLU numbers revealed.
For example, Lauren Johnson got picked up for having trace amounts of drugs in Texas, where that is a felony. She was removed from her home, where she cared for her three kids and nearby grandmother.
Johnson told the ACLU the mass incarceration crisis will continue to impact women un- til they’re “able to access treatment and services” outside of the criminal justice system.
Former Pennsylvania prisoner Dana Lomax-Williams said she was strip-searched, sexually violated by male guards, and sent to solitary for being noncompliant.
The ACLU reported Pennsylvania changed its laws, now mandating that females not be searched by males.