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Three teen girls smiling and looking at camera. Racial Equity & Social Justice challenge logo in bottom-left corner.
Today's topic: Women in Prison
Over the past 30 years, the trend of confining more women to federal, state and local correction facilities as exploded with an increase of 700%. Today we will discuss how anecdotal and antiquated healthcare policies, harsher disciplinary consequences, and unmet needs while incarcerated and post-release, perpetuate a cycle of generational imprisonment, poverty and trauma for women and families. 
Listen to this investigation, which finds that in prisons across the U.S., women are disciplined more often than men and almost always for low-level, non-violent offenses. 
A recent study of 22 U.S. state prison systems and all U.S. federal prisons, found that roughly 3.8% of the women in their sample were pregnant when they entered prison. Read this article to see how prisons neglect pregnant women in their healthcare policies.
Read this article discussing the disproportionate number of women stuck in jail, including unconvicted women who are awaiting trial, and the long-lasting consequences of these stays.
Level I: Think about whether calling the police is the best response in any situation before automatically making the call. Compile and keep a list of local hotlines and services that may be better equipped to respond to situations involving mental health, substance abuse, homelessness or other social problems. Add these resources to your phone contact list and use them when appropriate.
Level II: Research how the communities that you are a part of interact with police systems: your City, your State, your children's school, your workplace. Do these communities have disparities in arrest rates or incarceration? Do these communities have policies that prevent over-policing or excessive use of force? Are health policies that meet the needs of female inmates in place? Write a letter to the leaders of your communities and share your concerns.
Level III: Find a local reentry program that helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully transition to their community upon release and get involved by volunteering or donating in support of their work.
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YWCA St. Paul is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA St. Paul is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.