Working at the Intersection of Criminal Justice

Getting Black women on the agenda for police accountability and ending criminal justice abuse.

There is a distinct lack of attention given to Black women’s experiences with police brutality and incarceration. Police and criminal justice reform movements often don’t consider the ways Black women are affected by state violence, usually at the intersection of physical/sexual violence and poverty.

Black women make up only 13% of the U.S. population, but are disproportionately incarcerated (Center for American Progress, 2013). Black women are two times more likely than Latinas to be jailed, and are nearly three times more likely to be jailed than white women. In fact, Black women have almost single-handedly expanded the women’s prison-industrial complex. In 2008, 349 out every 100,000 Black women were incarcerated, compared to only 93 out of of every 100,000 white women (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009).

Given the incarceration rates, there is a significantly increased possibility that a Black woman is or will be a victim of sexual violence in the form of inmate rape, sexual abuse and sexual extortion. The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that allow men to guard women, often unsupervised. More than three quarters of all reported staff sexual misconduct involves women who were victimized by male correctional staff (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2012). Fear of retaliation, the lack of safeguards and formal procedures, and the inability to seek redress prevent many women from seeking help.

At the community level, the destructive impact of policing and the criminal justice system is particularly hard on Black women. They are far more likely than men in the criminal justice system to be the sole support and caregivers for their children. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women risk the termination of parental rights, denial of welfare benefits, denial of public housing and denial of federal tuition assistance, creating a significant barrier to overcoming socioeconomic disadvantage (The Sentencing Project, 2012).

Join Black Women’s Blueprint as we raise critical awareness and advocate for the inclusion of Black women’s experiences with violence at the hands of law enforcement and within the criminal justice system. Organize with us to hold authorities accountable to end persistent abuses and to end reliance on the prison industrial complex.

In 2010 after the rape of a White woman in her NYC apartment by two police officers later acquitted by the court system, which received consistent, national attention, we sent a call to all allies to help us raise awareness about sexualized police violence against Black women and girls in NYC and across the country by producing a film to highlight their plight.

We got 4 responses, one of them from a White anti-racist ally.

These are the voices featured in this footage.

We know that Black women are particularly impacted. As stated above, Black women bear a burden all their own. Today, in 2015, we still fight. We fight for the full protection of our rights as Black women because silence prevails and the invisibility is almost complete within Black communities and in greater society: about Black women’s lives; about the level of sexual violation; the continued systematic exclusion of our specific gendered experiences in the broader agenda for civil and human rights.

Read Black Women’s Blueprint’s Open Letter to the Survivors of Ex-Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw on EBONY.com