How to discipline a shoplifting girl endings

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This Essay encourages a shift in public awareness towards support for ending incarceration of women and girls; towards a deeper exploration of prison abolition, and of the possibilities besides reliance on prisons; and towards the view that incarceration is not an acceptable form of addressing harm that only needs reform, but rather is a continuation of policies rooted in racism that have been used as tools of oppression and control with little relation to meaningful public safety measures.

In those letters, I described what I witnessed as a woman incarcerated in a prison filled with other women, mostly mothers who had been separated from their children and were serving protracted and unjust sentences. The federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut where I was incarcerated had two components. The midlevel security prison was called a federal correctional institution, or FCI, and the lowest security deation was known as the federal prison camp.

I lived in the camp. It sat on a hill overlooking the higher-security FCI, which sat behind an enormous, imposing prison wall. The women at the camp drove prison vehicles, provided manual labor for the prison at a pay rate starting at twelve cents per hour, 1 worked for the Federal Prison Industries known as UNICOR2 and at times even trained new officers in the jobs in which they had gained expertise.

Officials trusted the women to keep the prison community functioning, but they did not trust them to serve their sentences in their own community. As I witnessed life in prison, I found it increasingly difficult to comprehend why these women—both the women with me in the camp, and those confined in the federal correctional institution behind the wall—were forced to live away from their families.

In their own communities, they could have worked to address the issues that landed them on a prison bunk, while receiving and giving the help they and their children needed. Besides keeping their families intact, allowing these women to remain in their communities would have enabled them to focus more on healing themselves and any others they had harmed. This would have allowed for the more personally transformative experience that is necessary if minimizing harm and violence is the goal of the criminal system.

In this Essay, I relate my experience as an incarcerated mother and as a friend, colleague, and advocate of countless others. I then explain why these collective experiences have persuaded me that we must put an end to the incarceration of women and girls. My own experience as a mother incarcerated opened my eyes to the pain the criminal legal system inflicts on children and families. I remember the difficult moment when I told my twelve-year-old daughter that I was leaving home to go to prison.

I waited until the night before I was expected to voluntarily surrender myself. In this respect, I was lucky; not everyone is allowed to self-surrender. Most of the women incarcerated with me were swept up in a drug arrest and held in custody until their sentencing and transport to the prison where they would serve their sentence.

Many had not seen their children since they struggled to catch a glimpse of them through the rear window of a police vehicle, watching as their children were also taken away by strangers. I told her that I had gotten into trouble in my law practice, and that I had to go away for a while. I had always tried to protect my children from painful experiences. As much as I how to discipline a shoplifting girl endings to hide the truth, she had understood all along that something was going on.

And she knew it was something bad. Maybe it was the rushed closing of my law office; or my harried attempts to get my infant son to stop breastfeeding; or the immense heaviness hanging in the air from the day I realized I would be unable to reverse the mistakes I had made and for too long had been too afraid to seek help with. Before I was convicted of mortgage fraud, I was a criminal-defense and real-estate-conveyance attorney. On December 7,the U. District Court of Massachusetts sentenced me to serve a twenty-four-month prison sentence.

At the time of my sentencing, my husband and I had young adult children, a daughter who was twelve years old, and a son who was five months old. When my case started, I was pregnant with my son. The Assistant U. Attorney ased to my case was also expecting. By the time of my sentencing, another prosecutor had replaced her because she was on maternity leave. This irony was painful for me. I understood that she was a prosecutor, and I, a woman convicted of a crime; but that did not change my feeling of desperation to find a way to remain home with my infant.

Weeks before my self-surrender, I bought my son a stuffed animal, Billy, and slept with it in the hopes that my scent would comfort him after I was gone. Because of my children, and because of my socioeconomic privilege as a lawyer with far-reaching familial and professional support, the judge sentenced me to the prison closest to our home in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Even so, it was a state away—in Danbury, Connecticut.

During my entire time how to discipline a shoplifting girl endings Danbury, my husband brought our two youngest children to visit me every visiting day. He drove them three hours in each direction, getting up at four in the morning to get them ready, make the baby bottles, and pack the Pampers, extra clothing, and Billy, the stuffed animal I left with my son.

He bundled them into the car, even during snow and ice storms, and made the early morning drive to Danbury hoping to get there before count time so they would not have to wait to be allowed to visit me. The first time they came to visit me was the hardest. When the officer announced that the visit was over, it was unbearable. It was almost impossible for us to let go of each other as he told them to leave and told me to line up against the wall to be strip-searched.

For my mother, a psychology professor who studies families of the African diaspora, visiting me was a challenge—not only because she had to come to a federal prison to see her daughter, but also because her pain was compounded by witnessing the other mothers and their children interact in the visiting room. I saw my son walk for the first time in the prison visiting room. Still, I was fortunate.

I was incarcerated with women who spent decades separated from their children—women like Michelle West, who is serving how to discipline a shoplifting girl endings with no parole for a drug case. Miquellenow an adult, is unrelenting in her fight to free her mother. Michelle West and her daughter are not alone. The criminal system targets poor people and people of color.

Our culture and history of racism, classism, and discriminatory application of criminal justice policy has not passed over women. Throughout our history, Black women were viewed as property, not as human beings, starting with American slavery. There, they were forced to perform hard labor, working side-by-side with men on chain gangs; they were expected to maintain the care of the camp, prepare the meals, and mend the clothing; 16 and all the while, they were subjected to beatings 17 and rape.

One can draw a continuous line between the historical mistreatment of Black women—and the evolution from slavery, to domestic servitude, to mass incarceration—and the present-day conditions of confinement affecting all incarcerated women. The barbaric and brutal practice of shackling pregnant women and girls during labor, reminiscent of slavery, is a routine and widespread practice. So, too, can it be argued that the accepted practice of separating mothers from children in our criminal legal system derives from historic racist practices.

The common thread is the dehumanization of the Black woman. Mothers are often incarcerated for choices made as a result of being cash-poor and without support. This would not seem like a sensible or humane policy, if only the full humanity of the people it affected were accepted. I have been told countless stories, either during my tenure as a criminal defense attorney or while laying on my prison bunk, about times women in the depth of their addiction were beaten, trafficked, humiliated, and left for dead.

The ever-present sights and sounds of law enforcement vehicles that speed in and out of streets in neighborhoods like mine, stopping and frisking in ongoing violation of the Fourth Amendment, 24 betrays a bitter irony to those of us who know that their presence, alleged to keep us safer, is an overwhelmingly ineffective response to violence, addiction, mental illness, and poverty.

While incarcerated, I often asked myself what kind of country would separate mothers from their children in this manner. I thought about those who implement these policies, and wondered how judges could carry them out despite knowing the devastation they cause when they sentence a mother to a lengthy mandatory minimum sentence. I understand that the role of the judge is to interpret the law. But at what point should those of us who know better radicalize the power and professional privilege we have for the purpose of correcting grave injustices?

In recent years, there has been a ificant increase in the incarceration rate of white women. Only a handful of the millions of people in this vast place are aware that the fate intended for you, Sister Angela, and for George Jackson, and for the less prisoners in our concentration camps—for that is what they are—is a fate which is about to engulf them, too.

White lives, for the forces which rule in this country, are no more sacred than black ones. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night. Overall, the of women in state prisons in the United States has increased at a rate fifty percent higher than men since For example, my friend Ramona Brant was sentenced to serve life in prison for a first-time federal drug conspiracy conviction. From prison, Brant did what she could for her children. She worked a commissary job, sending the money she made to them to pay for their haircuts.

My arms would ache from not being able to pick them up and hold them. She had spent every day since her release working to bring an end to incarceration of women and girls. The American people have recently experienced a consciousness-raising moment about the harm of family separation.

On May 7,U. It was incredible to me that Sessions viewed their actions not as a desperate attempt for a better life, but as criminal actions that justified splitting their families apart. Stories and pictures of crying babies and children taken from their parents dominated morning and evening news programs. The reaction from Americans was swift and demanding: end the practice of separating minor children from their parents at the border. Activists organized rallies across the country, and people came out to protest by the hundreds of thousands.

Having been an incarcerated mother, I understood the pain of these mothers hoping to be reunited with children. Yet I also wondered why there are not protests on behalf of the women separated from their children every day due to our carceral policies.

Reading the s of the mothers and children who had been separated at the boarder reminded me of the countless times in prison when I saw women crumple to the floor, inconsolable and desperate for a chance to see and hold their children, to look them in the eyes, and to tell them they love them.

How to describe and quantify the suffocating anxiety felt by incarcerated mothers, forced to live in a place where, as one mother I was incarcerated with told me, you do not even have the right to struggle? How to transpose into words the screams of a mother trapped behind prison walls receiving the news that her child has disappeared, or been trafficked, harmed, or killed while struggling to survive in the absence of her mother?

How do we harness the lived experiences of incarcerated mothers and their children, in addition to all the research and statistics, how to discipline a shoplifting girl endings challenge and transform carceral policy to an approach that addresses the underlying causes of the poverty, violence, illness, and inequity that overwhelmingly land mothers on prison bunks?

In this struggle, we must learn from the courage of incarcerated women and girls—and from their ability to carry on against great odds. The problem with this sweeping assertion is that it suggests that the only way to protect the public from dangerous people is to lock them in a prison and rely upon this as the way to stop further harm. But hurt people hurt people. Relying upon incarceration as the response to violent acts is not an effective way to increase the well-being of the public, because it harms rather than heals the people we subject to it, while not addressing why they harm.

This is not the most effective way to achieve ability and atonement. Changes in sentencing and carceral policies over the past forty years led to the increase in U. In my opinion, these findings are not surprising. The theory of deterrence assumes that individuals rationally weigh the benefits of crime against the costs of punishment.

But life experience does not support this theory. Relying on incarceration to improve public safety and reduce crime is deeply flawed, and the alternatives that could replace it have been for the most part ignored, underutilized, and untested. Instead, crime prevention relying on the use of incarceration as deterrence is the overwhelming norm, despite being based on a rationale that is unrealistic. Meanwhile, arguments for incarceration that center on the incapacitation of people viewed as dangerous do not take into consideration that much violence is situational and the result of and unaddressed violence, illness, trauma, hatred, and political ideology.

Reliance on incarceration does not automatically lead to a safer society, because it does not address the ongoing social, political, and economic reasons at the root of violent acts. Of course, I do not intend to impose any particular reaction on someone suffering. It is not for any of us to decide for a person who has lost a loved one to violence or personally experienced trauma what their response should be. Violence is often lethal, and it is always painful, damaging, and debilitating.

But violence is also a complex phenomenon, 43 and we too often fail to examine its underlying causes when we rely on incarceration. This failure to understand the true causes of violence is especially difficult to accept when the whole point of prison is said to be the eradication of violence and harm. Each day I spent in prison, the facade that incarceration was necessary for a peaceful and safe public—or indeed, that it contributed to public safety in any effective way—eroded more and more.

I learned that the conventional view that confinement in prison is necessary for public safety by way of incapacitating the dangerous is misguided. Prison itself does not cure but more often exacerbates violence. People do not cease being human beings because they are sent to live in a prison. Their responses to trauma do not cease in a prison environment, and they do not cease once the person is released from the prison. Incarceration itself is an act of violence and therefore does not address harm in effective evolutionary ways.

It is now well known that U. Children are uniquely harmed. Incarceration of parents contributes ificantly to the of children entering the child welfare system, exacerbating tragic trends. There are aboutchildren in foster care in the United States at any given time, 49 and sixty percent of child sex trafficking victims have been in the child welfare system.

This only makes it harder for incarcerated parents to maintain their legal rights to their children. The cost of incarceration for individuals, their families, and their communities is often financially crippling and emotionally overwhelming.

How to discipline a shoplifting girl endings

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