The context is stark: At least 1 in 4 women in the United States has a family member who is incarcerated. Moreover, women are being incarcerated more frequently today than ever before.
In its new national report, “Because She’s Powerful: The Political Isolation & Resistance of Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones,” grantee Essie Justice Group explores the ways in which the system of mass incarceration affects women with incarcerated loved ones, women living in poverty, and women who are or have been incarcerated.
Drawing from survey results from over 2,200 women and representing a three-year research effort, Essie’s report is the first of its kind. Key findings include:
- 86 percent of women responding to the survey reported that the strain on their emotional and mental health is significant or extreme. That number jumps to 94 percent for women whose partners are currently incarcerated.
- Nearly 70 percent act as a primary support for at least one of their incarcerated loved ones. More than 80 percent of women surveyed listed at least one person, incarcerated or not, who depends on them for a basic need.
- Bail depletes women’s earnings—and many are unable to pay it at all. More than half of women are unable to afford the bail set for an incarcerated loved one. Fifty percent of women who have ever owed money to a bail bonds agency have faced housing insecurity.
We invite you to explore the full report here.
In 2017, the Foundation’s Human Rights program supported Essie Justice Group through a $300,000 grant for general support over 20 months. Essie offers direct support to women impacted by the justice system, organizes women to engage in advocacy for system reform, and partners with other advocates to increase public awareness about the human costs of mass incarceration.