Shields, D. M. (2021). Stonewalling in the brick city: Perceptions of and experiences with seeking police assistance among LGBTQ citizens. Social Sciences, 10(1), 16. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10010016
Shields (2021) sought to understand circumstances in which LGBTQ citizens would call upon police, when they would avoid doing so, and their justification for their decision. Because the sample was primarily African American, the researcher also considered the intersectionality between sexual and gender minorities and race on perceptions of the police. Authors used a qualitative design in which they presented participants with questions then recorded their responses. Content analysis was used to identify common keywords, phrases and themes. The results reveal that one third of participants reported they would never seek police assistance. Of the two thirds that reported they would, it was only under certain circumstances (e.g., medical emergencies, violence incidents, harassment and threats, etc.). Some concern was centered solely around their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and the issues they anticipated when interacting with the police. Around one third of the participants reported that they have called upon police in the past. However, nearly 84% of those experiences were perceived as negative for a number of reasons (e.g., police did not respond in timely manner, were discourteous, homophobic, unsuccessful in resolution). Nearly all participants (91%) reported that the police would not be their first choice of contact if they were to be involved in an anti-LGBTQ crime. Participants offered suggestions on how to improve the relationship between the police and LGBTQ communities. Suggestions included targeted training, educating officers on the LGBTQ community, increasing officer’s professionalism towards the LGBTQ community, and proper use of terminology (e.g., pronouns). It is also discussed that a more visible population of “out” LGBTQ police officers as well as having the police immerse themselves in the local LGBTQ community would help to reestablish trust and lead to better practices of policing.
Tripodi, S., Pettus-Davis, C., Bender, K., Fitzgerald, M., Renn, T., & Kennedy, S. (2019). Pathways to recidivism for women released from prison: A mediated model of abuse, mental health issues, and substance use. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 46(9), 1219-1236. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854819867119
Tripodi et al. concluded that a large percentage of incarcerated women have suffered childhood physical abuse (40%), childhood sexual abuse (46%), or childhood emotional abuse (83%). Additionally, nearly 75% of the women in the study met criteria for depression among other mental health issues. Authors sought to determine indirect the relationships between childhood trauma (physical, sexual, and emotional) and recidivism for women in prison. Results indicated that childhood trauma was not significantly related to recidivism for the women in the sample. However, there was an indirect relationship between childhood trauma and recidivism when depression was present. Authors emphasized the importance of addressing incarcerated women’s trauma pre-release to reduce rates of recidivism. More specifically, the authors emphasized using gender-responsive and trauma-informed interventions that focus on childhood trauma while also utilizing depression assessment and empirically supported treatment to address mental health. Overall, these findings add to the rather limited literature on incarcerated women’s mental health and what factors unique to the female experience may impact recidivism.
Jenness, V., Sexton, L., & Sumner, J. (2019). Sexual victimization against transgender women in prison: Consent and coercion in context. Criminology, 57(4), 603-631. doi.org/10.1111/1745-9125.12221
Jenness and colleagues (2019) utilize both qualitative and quantitative data from transgender women who are incarcerated across multiple men’s prisons to investigate the factors and processes that shape sexual victimization of incarcerated transgender women. Women reported experiencing harassment by peers and law enforcement, nonsexual physical assault, pressure to have sex, sex against their will with peers and law enforcement, and rape while incarcerated. In fact, 58.5% of the women reported having to do sexual things against their will while in prison. Researchers found that much of the sexual victimization can be attributed to intimate relationships, with 88% of participants reporting they were in a marriage-like relationship with another prisoner during their incarceration. Additionally, authors concluded that having a sexual relationship with another prisoner more than triples the individual’s odds of being sexually victimized. Results also indicated that victimization typically occurred with only one perpetrator. These results highlight the ambiguous and sometimes coercive nature of intimate relationships in prison. The concept of consent changes in prison, as there is the possibility that transgender women are consenting to participate in relationships for the purpose of gaining status or protection. The results also showed two common areas in which participants categorized their experiences: against their will (sexual assault) and things they would rather not do (sexual victimization). The researchers identified that involvement in consensual sexual relationships with male prisoners, being in a group unit, and being a high school graduate, as well as experiencing mental health issues both before and after incarceration put women at risk for being assaulted or victimized. This research supports the need for separate housing for transgender inmates as well as additional training and education of prison administrators, staff, and regarding the unique experiences and needs of transgender women in the justice system. Jenness and colleagues (2019) encourage the continued exploration of prison culture and what prisoner violence, punishment beyond incarceration, and consent look like for these women who are in a typically male-dominated prison environment.
Jones, M. S., Worthen, M. G. F., Sharp, S. F., & McLeod, D. A. (2020). Native American and non-Native American women prisoners, adverse childhood experiences, and the perpetration of physical violence in adult Intimate Relationships. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1-30. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260519897328
Few studies have examined the long-term effects of maltreatment and other adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on Native American women prisoners' perpetration of physical violence in adult intimate relationships (IPV). Using a feminist life course theoretical framework, Jones and colleagues (2020) sought to examine how individual, cumulative, and clusters of ACEs relate to violence perpetration in adult intimate relationships of Native American and non-Native American women prisoners. Overall, the authors' findings indicate that ACEs are not only critical to understanding adult IPV, but the underlying processes between ACEs and adult IPV differ for Native American women compared to non-Native American women. These results are particularly significant because women prisoners commonly report a disproportionately high rate of ACEs (in this sample, 70.1% of Native American and 56.6% of non-Native American reported five or more ACEs), which is higher than non-incarcerated samples (25% of non-incarcerated samples typically report exposure to three or more ACEs). The cumulative impact of ACEs (i.e., five or more ACEs) and the abuse “cluster” of ACEs (i.e., emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse) were positively associated with adult IPV for both groups. Moreover, cohabitating and/or not married/widowed, illicit drug use, and heavy alcohol were related to the perpetration of adult IPV for both groups as well.
Even with these similarities there were important differences between the two groups. Specifically, physical neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, having a family member incarcerated, and having a battered mother had a causal relationship on the perpetration of adult IPV for Native American women; sexual abuse and parental separation and divorce were related to perpetration by non-Native American women. Native American women experienced more exposure to chaotic home environments, however this was not significantly related to the perpetration of adult IPV. In contrast, the chaotic home environment ACEs “cluster” (i.e., witnessing domestic violence, incarceration of a family member, having lived someone with a substance abuse problem or mental illness) was related to the perpetration of adult IPV for non-Native American women prisoners. The rate of endorsement for chaotic home environment ACE’s was overall lower for non-Native American women prisoners compared to Native-American women. The childhood neglect ACEs “cluster” (i.e., physical neglect and emotional neglect) was significantly related to the perpetration of adult IPV for Native American women, but not non-Native American women. Ultimately, the study’s findings demonstrate both similarities and differences in the ways ACEs relate to Native American and non-Native American women’s use of physical violence in their adult intimate relationships. Prior studies have not sufficiently examined these patterns in Native American women, underscoring the need of continued research to best understand these experiences.
Hayes, C. M., Sufrin, C., & Perritt, J. B. (2020). Reproductive justice disrupted: Mass incarceration as a driver of reproductive oppression. American Journal of Public Health, 110 (S1), S21–S24 https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305407
Hayes and colleagues (2020) examined how mass incarceration undermines the core values of reproductive justice and its effects on incarcerated and non-incarcerated women. Specifically, mass incarceration compromises and undermines biological autonomy and the capacity for incarcerated people to make decisions about their reproductive health and well-being. This violates the three core tenets of reproductive justice—the right to have a child, not to have child, and to parent with dignity and in safety. The authors assert that the disproportionate hyper- incarceration of Black individuals and other historically marginalized groups is a catalyst for reproductive oppression in the criminal justice system, and the entire phenomenon of mass incarnation must be viewed through the lens of reproductive justice to fully comprehend its ubiquitous nature. Reproductive justice connects reproductive oppression to obstacles for social justice and human rights by focusing on the roles of social institutions (e.g., prisons and jails), the environment, economics, and culture play in reproductive health. The authors contend that women behind bars have been eclipsed in larger discussions on healthcare for incarcerated people, criminal legal system reform, and the harmful impact of incarceration on health status and outcomes using a relevant review of the literature to support their claims. Their review is summarized here.
At its most fundamental level, incarceration impedes one’s right to have children. Current sentencing laws can keep women behind bars for years. A woman’s fertility declines with age, meaning a lengthy sentence will result in lower fertility rates. Since 75% of incarcerated women are in their reproductive years, imprisonment generally prevents procreation. Additionally, while incarcerated, access to care is restricted, bodily autonomy is controlled, physical movement is regulated, and access to contraception is uncommon. A 2019 study of state and federal prisons reported nearly 1,400 admissions of pregnant people, more than 750 live births, about 50 miscarriages, and 11 abortions in one year. More so, up to 80% of women report being sexually active with men months prior to incarceration, with less than 30% reporting consistent use of contraception. Further, incarcerated mothers are immediately prevented from raising their children with dignity and safety due to their confinement. Two thirds of incarcerated women are mothers and primary caregivers of young children, therefore leaving a large number of children without caregiver stability. The likelihood of losing their children to foster care and their parental rights is far greater compared to incarcerated men. The authors advocate for the examination of ways in which mass incarceration and the criminal legal system disrupt reproductive justice and reproductive inequities in four areas: (1) ensuring that incarcerated women have access to quality reproductive health care; (2) dismantling structural and institutional racism; (3) promoting reproductive justice and women’s health; and (4) imagining a world without prisons. Overall, the authors proposed that an equitable society requires new tools, improved analysis of the criminal justice system and mass incarceration, and imagination to prevent further violation of reproductive justice for both incarcerated and free people.
Sufrin, C., Beal, L., Latkin, C., Sutherland, L., Terplan, M., & Clarke, J. G. (2020). Opioid use disorder incidence and treatment among incarcerated pregnant women in the United States: results from a national surveillance study. Addiction, 115(11), 2057-2065. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.15030
Although medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is the established standard of care during pregnancy, it is not consistently available in incarcerated settings. United States institutions of incarcerations are constitutionally mandated to provide healthcare but there are no mandatory standards to ensure quality care. Despite the importance of MOUD for pregnant incarcerated women, medication availability is limited and there is no existing data on the number of pregnant women in prisons and jails with OUD. To address this gap, Sufrin and colleagues (2020) sought to examine the number of incarcerated women with opioid use disorder (OUD) in the US and the MOUD pregnancy policies in jails and prisons. The authors collected data from large United States county jails and state prisons, including opioid withdrawal policies and MOUD availability for pregnant women. From 2016 to 2017 they conducted a cross-sectional policy survey and a 6-month epidemiological surveillance study of US state prison systems and county jails participating in the Pregnancy in Prison Statistics (PIPS) study. Findings revealed that not all prisons and jails have policies that provide MOUD. Of the 22 state prisons and 6 county jails that participated in PIPS study, the majority provided MOUD to pregnant women, while 4 prisons and 2 jails did not. However, most of the prisons and half of the jails that had MOUD continued medication from a community provider but did not initiate it. Notably, most jails and prisons in the study had policies of discontinuing pharmacotherapy when a pregnancy ended. Meaning, it was standard policy to discontinue medication. This is significant as opioid‐related pregnancy‐associated deaths are highest in the postpartum period, and MOUD at this vulnerable and transitional time is protective against overdose mortality. Nearly one-third of pregnant women with OUD were either withdrawn from treatment or not offered MOUD while withdrawing from opioids. One prison reported that it used ‘Norco’ (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) for withdrawal and provided neither methadone nor buprenorphine for the treatment of OUD. Only four prisons and one jail that offered MOUD for pregnant women also provided MOUD to non‐pregnant individuals, and these five sites also allowed postpartum women to continue MOUD. US institutions of incarceration are uniquely positioned to provide vital treatment to pregnant women with OUD. There are deep racial and economic inequities embedded in incarceration practices in the United States, which overlap with racialized responses to the opioid epidemic and racial disparities in OUD treatment Thus, these findings reflect that access to standardized treatment may play an essential role in reducing health inequities and promoting social justice for this overlooked population.