Illinois Department of Corrections has implemented the Women’s Task Force Initiative. The main purpose of the all women-led group is to help reduce the state’s population of women of IDOC prisons.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. According to the chart below from Statista, the number of US prisoners nearly quintuples the number of prison inmates in the United Kingdom and doubles the number of the second highest country on the planet, Turkey.
How does the country that prides itself on the “American dream” and living a fulfilled life has the highest prison rate across the globe? If anything, our nation should be investing more in education, so people feel as though they can achieve their own dreams.
American TV & Prison Reform
When it comes to prison reform in the States, the insanely high number of individuals who are incarcerated has gained attention. What has gained specific attention is the number of individuals who have been wrongly convicted.
Thanks to Netflix, the world now knows about and how a small town in Wisconsin successfully “.” But there is more to prison reform than wrongful convictions… it is half of the world population.
While tv shows like exist, there is not a substantial amount of media or attention about imprisoned women. Some people may reason that this is because the number of men in jail is exponentially more, although statistics show this is changing drastically. Others argue that it is because many women are convicted of non-violent crimes.
Both of these statements are true. Yet, that does not mean they are justified.
Illinois Creates Women-Led Task Force to Decrease Prison Population
A female-led Women’s Task Force Initiative was recently established in Illinois with the goal of decreasing the number of female prisoners in Illinois Department of Corrections by 50% over the course of seven years. Over 100 women are members of this task force, including:
- Women who have been incarcerated
- Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke
- Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx
The women behind the task force are looking into reforming laws and creating different programs and interventions to help women before it gets to the point of prison. They believe that many women who are currently incarcerated have suffered through trauma, including physical, sexual, and domestic abuse, before ending up in prison.
Being imprisoned is going to give the women the tools they need to cope and move their lives in positive directions. In addition, since 80% of the women are mothers, the task force argues that taking mothers away from home is not only detrimental to the individual herself, but to the families and neighborhoods in which they live.
Task Force Goal: Reduce Illinois’ Women’s Prison Population by 50%
This task force directly connects to large-scale prison reform in the US, yet information about the program is not broadcast on national news! Decreasing the number of women prisoners by 50% is a lofty goal, but an organization like this does not exist anywhere in this country.
People always want to celebrate and acknowledge firsts, so why not this first? Is it because the people who would benefit from it are incarcerated women?
Regardless of how anyone feels about crime and the role of prisons in society, everyone needs to recognize that prison inmates are people. Prisoners have:
… just like any other member of society. Maybe he or she did not make the best choices in life, but everyone makes mistakes. When we get to the root of it, people are more alike than not.
Is There Hope for the Women’s Prison Population?
If there was an organization to decrease the number of women in Illinois prisons by 50%, maybe it would gain more attention. It is sad to think that way, but our country is still a very patriarchal society.
With all of that being said, the Illinois Women’s Task Force Initiative is putting together something that could be implemented in other states. Change does not occur unless people are willing to put themselves out there.
Here is to hope that this task force leads the charge for incarcerated women not only in Illinois but throughout the country.