Response (100 words)
I agree with your sentiments on alternatives to imprisonment. This is because women, who are also the primary care givers of their families, play an important role in the society therefore deprivation of liberty for crimes which can be answered through other correctional methods is not conducive for the cohesion of the society and the upbringing of children.
On issues of women being forced to indulge in drug related activities, women have been given the platform to speak out on such violent encounters therefore as much as women might be victims of such activities, they should not hide under the umbrella of violence but rather, help in fighting the war on drugs by speaking out.
As much as I second the idea of sentencing reforms to reduce the number of women in prison, I’m also of the idea of accountability in answering for crimes. The idea is reducing the number of women in prison while still ensuring that women abide by the law. Reforms in the sentencing of women should address the alternatives to imprisonment specifically for women because women are the primary care givers and susceptible to harsh prison conditions therefore alternatives will ensure that they still remain in the society and care for their families if their crime does not jeopardize the safety of the society.
Sentencing reforms are needed to reduce the number of women in prisons.
Sentencing structures can be divided into three. There are those that follow determinate sentencing statutes, others involve indeterminate sentencing statutes while the third adheres to the sentencing guidelines. The disparity in the different sentencing structures more often than not causes inconsistencies when sentencing an accused person. The sentencing disparities are dependent on a number of factors such as gender, race, and economic status among others. These factors have however met backlash over the years especially in regards to race and gender. As from the 1980s, the number of women imprisoned for drug related crimes heightened due to link and involvement especially through partners or family members who sell or use drugs (Mauer et al, 1999).
Reforms should be made to reduce the impacts that these factors have on sentencing women. Article 2 of the CEDAW’S states that women must enjoy equality with men under the law in all respects. This therefore invalidates the criteria of gender especially in sentencing of drug related crimes. In 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women reported to the General Assembly that drug laws and policies are the leading factors causing the rising rate of women imprisonment in the world (Manjoo, 2013).
The concept of equality with a vengeance exhibits the equality granted to both male and female partners in committing crimes therefore promotes the notion of equality in giving criminal justice solutions. The fact that men and women can commit crimes alike so should the punishment be alike. However, most women fall victims of such schemes like drug related schemes and end up in jail as compared to the male counterparts who are mostly masterminds (American Civil Liberties Union et al, 2005). Therefore, policies governing sentencing for women should be transformed.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Breaking the Chains and Brennan Center for Justice. (2015). Caught in the Net: The impact of drug policies on women and families. New York.
Manjoo, R. (2013) Pathways to, conditions and consequences of incarceration among women.
Mauer, M., Potler, C., & Wolf, R. (1999). Gender and Justice: Women, drugs and sentence policy. Report to UN General Assembly, 68th session. UN doc. No A/68/340.
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