1012 Eighth Ayenue - Brwklyn, N.Y. 11215 - 718-499-6704 - Fax: 718-832-2832
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 12,1995
Contact: Rev. Constance M. Baugh
718-499-6704, Fax: 718-832-2832
Mothers in Prison, Children in Crisis--Campaign '95
New York City, New York -- JusticeWorks Community is launching a national movement in ten major cities to end the incarceration of mothers with dependent children by advocating cost-effective and enforceable alternatives.
On May 12, 1995, the Friday before Mother's Day, activists in ten major cities will rally on the steps of local courthouses to highlight the devastating impact of incarcerating more and more mothers, the majority of whom have committed nonviolent crimes and are women of color from poor communities. The campaign will release a policy statement demanding that alternatives to incarceration become the sentencing standard for mothers with dependent children which will be delivered to judges following the rally.
Imprisonment must become the last recourse in legal sanctions, not the first, as demonstrated by the skyrocketing jail and prison rates and the draconian prison sentences, that have become the prevailing trend in this country. Prison expansion and the spreading epidemic of imprisonment have not reduced the threat of violence in our society. Instead they have given us the second highest incarceration rate in the world (1.5 million behind bars, most of whom have committed nonviolent crimes), siphoned off massive funds to the correctional establishment that could be used to eradicate the roots of crime, fueled the already escalating racial cancer that eats away at our nation's soul, and undermined our cherished principles of democracy. With the passing of the recent federal crime legislation, it is becoming clear to us that the major danger we face in this society is not crime, but the misconceived fight against crime. We believe that the time has come for the U.S. public to confront the fact that the failed criminal justice policies of the past two decades have increased the prison population four-fold. We, the American people, urgently need a humane, constructive and cost-effective response to our national crime problem.
In New York City, The Interfaith Partnership for Criminal Justice, sponsored by JusticeWorks Community, will hold a rally at 8:00 a.m. on the steps of the Manhattan Criminal Court Building at 100 Centre Street. Participants in the rally include: exprisoners and their children, social justice advocates, service providers, members of the clergy and religious community, elected officials, and academicians. Highlighting the enormous social and economic costs of incarcerating women, they will carry large, colorful placards with a woman's name, number of children, crime, length of sentence, and cost to taxpayers and will distribute brochures and handmade origami flowers with remembrance ribbons.
- There are more than 90,000 women in prisons and jails in the United States.
- Women are the fastest growing population in prisons.
- Seventy percent of the women in state prisons are serving sentences for nonviolent crimes.
- Two-thirds of the women are mothers of two or more dependent children.
- New York State prisons cost $30,000 per year; NYC jails cost $59,000.
- Foster care for each prisoner's child can cost an additional $20,000 per year.
And, the cost to human lives is devastating. Families are destroyed, children are lost in the foster care system, and communities are ripped apart. Many women are incarcerated for drug-related offenses, becoming victims of the mandatory sentencing laws. These families and the larger community would be better served by drug treatment programs, job training, and community service than by wasteful incarceration.
The Interfaith Partnership for Criminal Justice in New York City is the first ecumenical criminal justice effort created in New York City since the riots at Attica in 1971. Based in the religious community, the Partnership includes secular and religious groups and individuals who have come together to form a collective voice for social justice.
JusticeWorks Community, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit, serves women prisoners, exprisoners and their families while educating and organizing the public to make changes in the criminal justice system. JusticeWorks provides employment training and transition support to women who have been incarcerated in New York City jails and New York State prisons, and directs nationwide initiatives to foster citizen accountability for criminal justice policy and the social causes of crime.