“TULSA, Okla. — The women’s wing of the jail here exhales sadness. The inmates, wearing identical orange uniforms, ache as they undergo withdrawal from drugs, as they eye one another suspiciously, and as they while away the days stripped of freedom, dignity, privacy and, most painful of all, their children.
“She’s disappointed in me,” Janay Manning, 29, a drug offender shackled to a wall for an interview, said of her eldest daughter, a 13-year-old. And then she started crying, and we paused our interview.
Of all America’s various policy missteps in my lifetime, perhaps the most catastrophic was mass incarceration. It has had devastating consequences for families, and it costs the average American household $600 a year.
The United States has recently come to its senses and begun dialing back on the number of male prisoners. But we have continued to increase the number of women behind bars; two-thirds of women in state prisons are there for nonviolent offenses. America now incarcerates eight times as many women as in 1980, and only Thailand seems to imprison women at a higher rate.”
This is a magnificent piece by Nick Kristof. Read it and cry, and get involved in solutions.
One of my favorite comments:
Anires California 2 days ago
“There were so many strong points in this article, but perhaps my favorite was this:
“It’s time to change how we view addiction. Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness.”
It’s easy to dismiss the women here and coldly say they got what they deserved. But a little compassion and understanding would really go a long way. It could have easily been me in prison had I not been blessed with a loving and economically stable family. As a society we should help them overcome the darkest moments of their life instead of making it impossible for them to become contributing members of society.
Thank you, for shedding light on this.”