CHICAGO, Ill. (WAND) – State officials have said it’s time to focus on preventing women from going to jail.
A report from the Women’s Justice Institute showed that the majority of admissions for women were for non-violent crimes. The goal of an organization is to reduce the female prison population by 50% or more. WAND spoke to Amber Morrison, who was previously incarcerated.
“When I was there [at the Decatur correctional] I felt like a living, breathing number, “said Morrison, who spent most of his 20s behind bars.” You aren’t even called by your first name. You are called by your inmate number. “
After going back and forth to prison three times, she has come a long way. Morrison looks like her criminal record doesn’t reflect who she is now.
“I had so many obstacles in front of me,” Morrison said. “I did, but I have to say it was a huge struggle.”
Life would be different for the Chicago resident if help was available. The Institute of Women’s Justice focuses its efforts on transforming the systems that affect women. In Morrison’s case, it’s about the criminal justice system, jail and parole. Pam Rodriguez is a member of WJI in Illinois.
“Justice for women after incarceration really involves recognizing all of the reasons a woman ends up in prison in the first place,” Rodriguez said.
The women’s task force member said she is encouraging the Illinois legislature to consider “justice reinvestment”. WJI data showed Illinois spent over $ 1 billion on the women’s prison and parole system. Rodriguez said the money could go to programs and organizations that could help women.
“Women can benefit from this type of community support even before going to jail and preventing them from entering jail,” Rodriguez said.
The WJI said the female prison population would be halved. MK Pritzker, the governor’s wife, said the report “will play a vital role in our work to reshape our restorative system”.
WJI estimated that 98% of incarcerated women had a history of gender-based violence. About 80% of them are mothers.