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Uninhibited's picture


I’ve been thinking a lot about the images I have of incarcerated women, and can’t help but be ashamed at my lack of knowledge of the topic before this summer. Before this summer, the media influenced all of my images of incarcerated people. I don’t have any family members or close friends who have had any contact with the legal system in the US. I think that as a result, in high school I was definitely guilty of projecting very negative feelings towards those who “have committed a crime.” In a sense, I really placed a lot of blame on them for not making the types of decisions that my family and I have made. In high school, I do know people who ran intro trouble with the law, specifically for drug-related offenses, and I used to think that it was their fault. I probably felt that way because I grew up in the same environment, went to the same school, but somehow I ended up attending an afterschool program instead of doing drugs, I was definitely to all of the other factors that contribute to incarceration.


It wasn’t until I came to Bryn Mawr that I began to see the injustices engrained in all systems, specifically in the education. Having taken that bandage off, and after hearing Marc Lamont Hill speak about the prison industrial complex, I became interested in learning about the work of Angela Davis and others. That’s when I ran into the book The New Jim Crow, which I read this summer. These experiences really changed the way I think about incarcerated people and the role of prisons. Now, I’m much more likely to see how unjust the system is and to put less blame on personal choices. For example, in high school, I would probably would have imagined a female offender as someone who was violent, unwilling to follow the law, someone who lacked personal accountability, and made choices for which they had consequences. Today, not only do I recognize that the system is set up to incarcerate people of color and unfairly targets the poor and vulnerable but I also don’t see prisons as the best options for dealing with the choices they make. In other words, I think that the system needs to change, the solution should be an actual commitment to ending poverty, providing opportunities and alleviating social problems. I don’t even think prisons are reasonable for serious crimes such as murder and rape. Instead, I think that are some deep social problems that we can ignore more easily by throwing people into jails. Therefore, I now see incarcerated people as ways through which capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy and reinforced and preserved, they’re no longer criminals but people trapped by an unfair society to make choices they did not want to make.