The crisis of mass incarceration is shocking. Despite being 13 percent of the U.S. population, Black people make up more than 40 percent of the incarcerated population. Black women are the fastest growing population in prisons and jails. And one in four women have a family member who is in prison; for Black women, that number rises to nearly one in two.
It’s no secret that Black men are over-incarcerated in America. Michelle Alexander uncovered this shameful truth in her book The New Jim Crow. But Black men are not the only people being over-incarcerated, or who suffer from the impacts of mass incarceration. The movement to end mass incarceration is largely projected in the image of Black men, which means the impacts of mass incarceration on women and our families is often overlooked. Women are changing that.