NM Women in the Criminal Justice System

NM Women in the Criminal Justice System

ALBUQUERQUE, NM— Between 1980 and 2010 the number of women in prison has increased by 646%, nearly 1.5 times the rate of men (646% versus 419%). [1] As New Mexico convenes a timely and historic Legislative Subcommittee for Criminal Justice Reform, it is critical that the State take into consideration the concerns of women in the criminal justice system.
It is crucial that the state consider the needs of those who struggle with addiction, particularly gendered responsive programming and treatment. Across detention facilities including both jails and prisons, the majority of women there are for drug related crimes.
Young Women United and collaborative partners,including the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force, will today present before the Criminal Justice Reform Subcommittee. They will make recommendations as how to better serve women in the criminal justice system, particularly around pregnancy and breastfeeding. Young Women United will also share their new public education campaign, “We Are More Than Addiction”, created by people who have been pregnant and using, working to humanize their own families like their own.
Across the country, women and people who are parenting and addicted continue to be criminalized. Just last month Tennessee passed legislation to allow women who use drugs while pregnant to be criminally charged for harm done to their infants. At Young Women United, we know this will only serve to push families into the shadows and away from the healthcare and services they need. In New Mexico we have the opportunity to improve access to resources and treatment for those struggling with addiction and cycles of incarceration, our recommendations are designed to bring cost savings to the state, reduce recidivism, and better outcomes for families.
[1]The most serious offense for 59.4% of women in federal prisons and 25.1% of women in state prisons is violation of drug laws. Cahalan, M. (1986). Historical corrections statistics in the United States, 1850-1984. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics; Guerino, P., Harrison, P.M., & Sabol, W. (2011). Prisoners in 2010. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
[2] Federal Prison Data: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Justice Statistics Resource Center, Federal Criminal Case Processing Statistics Online Analysis Tool at http://www.bjs.gov/fjsrc/index.cfm last accessed May 24, 2013.
State Prison Data: Carson, E. Ann, and Sabol, William J., “Prisoners in 2011” (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2012), NCJ239808, Table 9, p. 9. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p11.pdf


Recommendations to the Criminal Justice Reform Committee by Breastfeeding in the New Mexico Criminal Justice System working group are:

1) Add pregnancy and lactation status as factors that shall be considered during determination of conditions for release and bond

2) Add consideration for electronic monitoring, as time served through house arrest with conditions, at sentencing for those with documented pregnancy or lactation status

3) Require detention facilities to create a policy suited to their capacity and population needs that allows for inmates that are lactating to express milk for the purpose of maintaining breast milk supply and/or safely providing breast milk for their infant

4) Require Children Youth and Families Department to develop a policy regarding breastfeeding and breast milk for families involved in CYFD’s prevention, intervention, rehabilitative and after-care services, based on American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines

Working group collaborators: New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force, Young Women United, Milagro, PB&J Family Services, Nourish the Dream