The incarceration rate for black women has risen by 828 percent, according to an alarming report by Amnesty international. According to the report, black women are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than white women and Latinas are four times more likely to be incarcerated than whites as well. Black women are also more likely to go to jail for crack-related offenses despite white and Hispanic women making up more than two-thirds of crack users.
The report also addressed abuse at the hands of prison guards. Seventy percent of prison guards are male, which leaves female prisoners susceptible to rape, groping during searches, sexual extortions and harassment, such as being watched while dressing and using the toilet. Discrimination against lesbians was highlighted and it was noted that a woman’s perceived sexuality might make her more susceptible to abuse by prison guards. Women that speak out against the abuse get punished in the form of having privileges like visitation revoked or more jail time. The most severe punishment a prison official may get is transfer to another facility.
Medical issues were also recorded, including the common practice of shackling pregnant women during labor and lack of medical care for mentally ill and drug-addicted prisoners. Incarceration issues were long thought to be primarily a problem for black men, but this report effectively dispels that notion.