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Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System

WHEREAS, women are the fastest growing prison population in the U.S. with 200,000 in prison, and a million more under some form of criminal justice supervision, as of 2009; and

WHEREAS, between 1997 - 2007 the number of women in prison has grown by 832%; and

WHEREAS, black women represent 30 percent of females incarcerated, which is a growing number of all females incarcerated under state or federal jurisdiction; and

WHEREAS, in 2005, black women were more than three times as likely as white women to be incarcerated in prison or jail; and

WHEREAS, women continue to be incarcerated for non-violent survival crimes, including sex work, drug related offenses, and property crimes due to mandatory minimum sentences and federal sentencing guidelines that limit the discretion of judges; and the overwhelming majority of women in prison - over two thirds are incarcerated for a non-violent offense; and

WHEREAS, guards have access to and review the history of inmates which include any complaints made identifying them, in retaliation, guards have threatened women, prisoner's children and their visitation rights as a way of silencing them or issue rule infraction tickets to extend their stay in prison if they speak out; and

WHEREAS, there are approximately 148,200 women in state and federal prisons while over 70% of the guards are male. And there's documentation supporting allegations of officials subjecting female inmates to rape, sexual assault, sexual extortion and unreasonable body searches; and

WHEREAS, the latest numbers released by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics reveal that more than 57% of women in state prisons and 55% of women in local jails have been physically or sexually abused in the past, with 37% having been raped before their incarceration; and

WHEREAS, the Bureau of Justice Statistics also reports that women prisoners are at least 3 times more likely than men prisoners to have suffered physical or sexual abuse in their past; and

WHEREAS, juvenile detention centers fail to address serious disparities in services and opportunities offered to girls including: alternatives to detention, vocational programs, community college programs, and recreational programs; and

WHEREAS, the one-size-fits all intervention programs used by the criminal justice system fit the characteristic needs of men, but ignore the characteristic circumstances that bring women into the system including: parenthood, drug use, sexual abuse, and domestic violence; and these programs often do not address women's specific needs when it comes to childcare, educational assistance, job training and other economic hardships women face.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP work with federal, state and local governments to generate gender-responsive strategies in addressing the intersecting problems that contribute to women's incarceration, through site and staff selection and the development of policy programs, content, and material that responds to the realities of women's lives, including social and cultural factors that lead them into the criminal justice system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP work to support, and advocate for diversion programs that: 1) offer treatment and rehabilitation (versus incarceration) for women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse, as well as for those who may have drug dependency issues, 2) address women's specific needs relating to child care, job training, educational assistance, and other economic burdens women may face; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will work to ensure that girls in the juvenile justice system are provided with programs and services that are specific to their needs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP work to enact evidence-based policies and practices that provide women and girls - inside correctional facilities and upon release - with adequate treatment and assistance programs that have been proven to work in dealing with the mental and physical trauma of physical, sexual, psychological, and drug related abuse; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP support the just treatment of those under supervision of the criminal justice system, regardless of race or gender; and require that abusive body search, rape and other brutal actions by guards be eliminated and the abusers terminated as well as prosecuted.

Together Power Vote Hero - NAACP

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