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A Rising Tide

Nadia's picture

At MomsRising, our Maternal Justice campaign works to address the issues of women and moms who are caught up in the devastating dragnet of mass incarceration. We know that 2.7 million children in the U.S. have an incarcerated parent, which breaks down to 1 in 28 children, and that currently there are more women behind bars than in the history of the United States.

This past spring, I was honored to attend "A Rising Tide: Understanding Incarceration's Multigenerational Impact on Women, Girls, and Communities" an event organized by the Maternity Care Coalition. The event brought together experts and advocates from around the country who spoke on a range of topics from incarcerated pregnant women to juvenile detention, to the massive disparities faced by trans and nonbinary folks within our incarceration and policing systems. 

At the forum, the impact of mass incarceration on families and communities were deeply explored. For example, did you know that nearly 80% of women in jail are single mothers and 64% are women of color? Or how the impacts of historical and mass group trauma on communities perpetuate the cycle of incarceration?

The problems mass incarceration presents can be overwhelming, but there are solutions that can turn the tide on this issue, solutions that can be made a reality by organizations and stakeholders partnering across systems to improve the outcome of women and girls caught in our criminal justice system. 

If you are interested in reading more, head over to the Maternity Care Coalition's piece "Stemming the Tide: Lessons From a Policy Forum On Incarceration's Multigenerational Impact on Women, Girls, and Communities". Below is an excerpt:

"The public face of mass incarceration is overwhelmingly male. Despite the fact that the number of incarcerated women in the U.S. increased by more than 700 percent between 1980 and 2016, the issue of incarceration is rarely focused upon from the perspective of women and girls, and by extension, their families and communities."

Motivated in part by a growing movement of child- and family-serving systems to work toward more holistic approaches to addressing social challenges, last month the Stoneleigh Foundation and Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) hosted a joint policy forum, “A Rising Tide: Understanding Incarceration’s Multigenerational Impact on Women, Girls, and Communities.” With more than 200 system leaders, service providers, policymakers, funders, and advocates in attendance, the forum set out to accomplish three main goals:

  • To highlight the root causes and effects of incarceration from the perspective of women and girls;
  • To share effective and innovative work happening in Philadelphia and around the country; and
  • To generate solutions to tackle over-incarceration with a gender-responsive lens.
  • Forum speakers and attendees engaged in dialogue and in-depth analysis throughout the day. A few key themes that stood out to the Stoneleigh and MCC teams included:

To read more, head to the Maternity Care Coalition's website:









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