ChoiceWords Blog

Posts Tagged: prison

Beauty and the Beast: Kalief Browder, Mental Illness and the Black Community

Mental illness. Depression. Schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder. Anxiety. Whatever one suffers from, mental illness has always been the elephant in the room, especially in the African-American community. It’s taboo, something to be brushed off, kept quiet, a simple “storm or phase” that a person is going through. But the African-American community has been caught in a vicious storm for as long as I can remember. Slavery was the beginning of a long history of mental abuse, with slave masters raping, killing, beating, and verbally and physically abusing African-Americans, which gave many Black the mentality not to show weakness and survive this inhumanity. This long suffering abuse (something which America tells us to simply ‘get over’ in various ways through the media and government treatment) did not go away when slavery was… Read more »

Pregnancy and Incarceration: Intersectional Justice

Reproductive justice within prison communities does not get discussed nearly enough. People who are pregnant and incarcerated are subject to many injustices. These injustices are particularly felt by low income communities and people of color. This week there was a workshop held at my school to talk about these issues hosted by Students United for Reproductive Freedom (SURF), our URGE branch. They write, “The mainstream pro-choice movement focuses on protecting the right to choose abortion, but the right to carry your pregnancy to term safely and with full agency is often overlooked. However, in the United States today, the personhood of pregnant people is systemically under attack. Fetal personhood legislation, the “War on Drugs,” and the medical industrial complex all chip away at the humanity of pregnant persons, and these… Read more »

A wolf in sheep’s clothing, is still a wolf

Recently, a mother in Pennsylvania was sentenced to prison because she ordered the abortion–inducing-drugs – misoprostol and mifepristone, over the internet for her daughter who was in the early stages of a pregnancy.  Before I get into the details, let’s read this quote from the prosecuting attorney in the case:  “it is vital to note that this case is not about pro-life or pro-choice. In actuality, this case is about endangering the welfare of a child through the unauthorized practice of medicine and pharmacy.” Actually, no.  The daughter in this story was not experiencing any symptoms that were abnormal for an abortion of this kind.  The abortion pill induces a miscarriage, which can lead to severe cramping, the exact symptoms the daughter was experiencing.  Therefore, the prosecutor’s claim that this… Read more »

The Voices of the Unshackled

On a pleasant fall Saturday afternoon, September 20, 2014 to be exact, I made my way from Barnard College to the breath taking Brooklyn Museum located in Eastern Parkway. I regrettably did not get to wander the museum because I came to the museum for a specific purpose. I attended the event, Unshackled: Women Speak Out on Mass Incarceration and Reproductive Justice, the third event in the “States of Denial” Panel Series. The term, shackled, resonates with because it represents a physical practice to be discussed later in this blog post as well as a mental shackling. The event was a well-attended collaboration between the Correctional Association of New York and the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The room buzzed with soft smooth jazzy beats as we prepared… Read more »

Seeking Justice for Victims while Dealing with an Unjust Prison System

Trigger warning: sexual and domestic violence I will be honest: I hate focusing on perpetrators of sexual assault. I like to focus my energy to make sure that the victim is working towards restoring themselves and that their needs are not ignored. At the same time, we have to think about perpetrators of sexual violence because without them, this issue wouldn’t exist. As a person who works in domestic violence, I often see the brutal effects of sexual violence on victims. I know personally, I struggle with the desire to dehumanize perpetrators of violence. When I hear about horrible violence, I want to send that perpetrator straight to prison.

“Orange is the New Black”: The Pornstache Problem

Note: Spoilers ahead I’m going to first give “Orange is the New Black” credit where it’s due. This show has had extremely positive reviews with a main female cast, highlighting different walks of life, and showing genuine personality traits the audience can relate to. It’s centered around Piper Chapman, a woman who is doing time for carrying a suitcase of drug money 10 years before. Throughout her time in a women’s prison, she meets a wide variety of characters each with their own storylines. Though it’s one of the most refreshing and progressive shows of our time, it draws attention from reproductive justice followers.

Five Ways the California Bill to Provide Condoms in Prison Falls Short

The California State Senate recently approved a bill to provide condoms to currently incarcerated adult prisoners. The controversial piece of legislation would require five adult prisons to have condoms available by 2015 and the other 33 by 2020. If passed, California would become the second state in the union to provide condoms in prison, next to Vermont. The legislation would provide an important resource to incarcerated people and help to protect those in incarceration from the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections Nonetheless, the initiative to provide condoms to prisoners is merely a band-aid solution to a much bigger problem. Here are five additional things California needs to do in order to fully protect vulnerable prison populations.