Stop the mass incarceration of women! Children deserve to be raised by their biological able, willing, and non-abusive mothers. The ages of children in the woman’s care, not just the nature of the crime should be heavily considered as a factor in due process of the law. It is time for us to accept that foster care is not a "temporary fix" for the child, just because the courts still have not figured out that jail is not a solution for poverty, forms of mental illness such as depression, or domestic violence. Fact: Women living below the poverty line are more likely to be charged with a criminal offense. Criminalizing poverty is counterproductive and disingenuous, and only creates newer, higher costs that drag state budgets to their limits. It is less expensive to approach the root causes of the family’s problems. We demand that justice-involved women with children thirteen years of age and under, unless it would somehow harm or jeopardize the child, not be stripped of custody permanently by default of the courts.
Helping mothers strengthen, educate, and protect their families can reinstate the values that we desperately need to encourage. We must defend children's rights, and stop this destruction of families by the prison industrial complex and their partner in hypocrisy, our apathetic, bureaucratic, unrealistic family court system, and at once check our own unrealistic stereotypes and misgivings about women who have criminal justice involvement. Any woman, any mother can go to jail or prison, and this doesn’t make her a bad or incompetent mother. Statistics show that marital status, income, race or ethnicity will certainly play a factor in the state attaching a “bad mother” label to swiftly incarcerate and remove children from their loving household. This is often done by downplaying the children’s existence in court or overblowing the mother’s perceived failure in responsibility to them by being poor and on the wrong side of the low. We’ve seen this court scenario play out in the media, in movies like “Losing Isaiah (1995)”, and countless TV shows. The caricatured picture of a strung out, neglectful, and irresponsible mother in court is dated, unrealistic, yet the damage is still being done.
The sickening social ill that is Jim Crow era dehumanization and disenfranchisement, poignantly described in the Willie Lynch letter (of recently challenged authenticity) is characterized by the weakening of the black family via post-modern genocide and separation from the mother. It is also the systemic, intentional, and generational deconstruction of natural emotional bonds to family, which is unhealthy, dangerous, and a threat to public safety, as we are raising a nation of disconnected youth related to the prisons we are feeding.
To say that incarcerating mothers at such a rate in America, especially in this time of economic depression, despair, and uncertainty has racial and financial implications is stating the painfully obvious, and we call upon other concerned citizens to rally our government into appropriate action and immediate attention to this matter.
We need your support as we unite for change, and happy, safe families everywhere.
Thank you for signing and sharing this petition far and wide.
Mothers against Mass Incarceration and supporters