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Criminal Justice - Essay Example

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Gender issues in corrections “Women are born free in the United States, but everywhere, give birth in chains” The Guardian, 2012 Topic Overview: Prison systems worldwide are customarily designed to suit the needs of the male prisoners, be it the architecture of the buildings housing the inmates or the security procedures implemented by them…
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Criminal Justice
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Criminal Justice

As a result, the needs of the female prisoners are often disregarded thus negatively affecting their mental and physical health in the process. It has also been observed that the failure to meet the needs of the female prisoners deprives them of their right to basic dignity and leads to the violation of their fundamental human rights (Law and Whitehorn, 2012). Some of the key issues commonly faced by female prisoners include custodial sexual misconduct; caring for their children; lack of availability of adequate healthcare facilities suited for their needs; lack of accessible services; vulnerability to abuse; etc among others. The needs and concerns of female prisoners are starkly different as compared to their male counterparts, a fact which has been largely ignored so far. Unlike men, the female prisoners are solely responsible for caring for their young children. In such a situation, isolation due to confinement inevitably takes a toll on their mental health. Furthermore they are relatively more vulnerable to abuse and neglect in prison due to the differences in the sexual and reproductive health as compared to males. Issues such as these are hence likely to aggravate the mental and health problems faced by them (UN Office of Drugs and Crime, 2008). Women are also found to be highly vulnerable to prison abuse (Clear, Reisig, and Cole, 2012). Their mental health in particular is far more likely to deteriorate while in confinement due to factors such as overcrowding, lack of proper assessment procedures, discomfort on account of being supervised by male staff, etc (McElreath, Keena, Elter and Stuart, 2011; Stohr, Hemmens, and Walsh, 2008). Furthermore it has also been observed by various researchers that women are more prone to attempt suicide while in confinement due to mental stress and trauma, and lack of availability of appropriate healthcare facilities to address their specific healthcare needs (Petersilia and Reitz, 2012). Critical evaluation: There has been a significant rise in the number of female prisoners in the United States during the past two decades. This sudden increase of female offenders can largely be contributed to stricter punishment and longer incarceration for drug offenders, as a part of the war on drugs campaign. Thus, the policies introduced by the administration to eliminate and / or reduce the disparities in sentencing, ultimately led to the rise of female inmates behind bars (Stange, Oyster, and Sloan, 2011; Miller, 2009). According to the American Civil Liberties Union, women comprise of the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population, increasing at nearly double the rate of men, in the United States (ACLU, 2007). There is substantial evidence indicating the substantial over-representation of women of color in the American prisons as well as the criminal justice system, with Blacks and Hispanics comprising of the largest female population behind bars (Law and Whitehorn, 2012; Oberman and Meyer, 2008). Some of the key reasons behind the increased incarceration rates of females belonging to the minority population include poverty, and unemployment which significantly hampers their ability to provide and care for their families. Their demographic and socio-economic background makes them highly prone to commit economically driven crimes such as property crimes, prostitution and at times drug ... Read More
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