A new Tennessee law makes it legal to charge a woman with child abuse and assault if she takes illegal narcotic substances while pregnant. The first woman who was arrested under this new law was a 26-year old woman whose baby girl tested positive for methamphetamines after being born. The woman was reportedly arrested on her way out of the hospital. Although she was later directed to a rehab, this new law may set a terrifying precedent to all pregnant women.
Laws like this are disguised at protecting babies, but in fact just feed the prison pipeline and deter pregnant women from seeking healthcare. If we really want to uplift the status of women, then community resources and further education better serve this, rather than the cycle of incarceration for one nonviolent act after another. Keep reading »
Another day, another fool trying to shove things up his butt to hide them from cops. This time, 35-year-old André Silva de Jesus was visiting his local prison in Ribeirao das Neves, Brazil, when he appeared “nervous,” and was pulled aside for an inspection. Claiming he had a pacemaker, André informed the prison guards he couldn’t go through the metal detector.
Little did cops know that they would ultimately find enough crap to rival an entire “Storage Wars” unit, all tucked away in his tush. Keep reading »
This past Monday, The Atlantic’s Noah Berlatsky took it upon himself to complain that “Orange is the New Black” inadequately represents the male prison population. Ohhhh boy. Keep reading »
If you read Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is The New Black or binge-watched the Netflix adaptation (and who hasn’t done that?), chances are you have wondered about the real-life woman behind Nora (in the book) and Alex Vause (the character in the show). For the first time ever, 51-year-old novelist and PhD student Catherine Cleary Wolters has spoken to Vanity Fair about her relationship with Kerman, their mutually-assured-destruction as cash smugglers for an African drug lord, and her side of their love story. Keep reading »
Now that Chelsea Manning has expressed a desire to medically transition through hormone replacement therapy, there are a lot of questions circling about what Leavenworth looks like for a trans woman, and how exactly someone might transition from male to female in prison. While Manning’s case itself is complicated, the question of what kind of healthcare someone deserves in prison is fairly simple. There are clear legal and moral arguments for Manning receiving hormones once they are prescribed by a doctor. This isn’t about what she did or did not do; it’s about the basic commitment we make as a society when we lock someone up.
When someone commits a crime, no matter how heinous, we still have an obligation as a society to provide their basic needs while they serve their time. As Lesley Kinzel argued when writing about the Michelle Kosilek case last year, “What makes us better than murderers is that we value human life, even the lives of those who don’t value life themselves, their own included.” Whether or not you agree with Manning’s release of classified information, we consider a decent life a collective value, enshrined in the basic rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. Courts have already held that the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment confers a right to adequate medical care in prison, and medical experts and courts have consistently found that hormone therapy is a medically necessary treatment for transgender people for whom it’s prescribed. Keep reading »