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Pre-conceived Notions

Owl's picture

One of the biggest issues I have with the dependency discourse is that it disproportionately effects women both in and out of prison.  As we can see in Offending Women and its description of the Alliance program, the dependency discourse seemed to dominate both how the institution itself formulated their political and istitutional needs  as well as  how the program constructed their goals. It makes me wonder how much of what we want and need for incarcerated women is already pre-determined by the way in which we label and categorize them before they become incarcerated. It is not a mystery that most incarcerated people are of poverty stricken backgrounds and that they are usually non-white. But, as the numbers have shown, it is also true that poor women of color are getting incarcerated at higher rates than any other population. I think that in order to understand incarceration of poor women of color and thus, how education within the walls of the institutions affect them, we must also understand how they are seen in greater society. This brings me to the issue of Welfare. Many poor women of color are on welfare before they even become incarcerated. The term welfare in it of itself assumes that there is, in a heirarchical sense, a give and take relationship between those on welfare and those distributing it. It makes women out to look like leeches. Thus, if we take this conception of poor women of color and utilize it to construct our definitons of incarceration and education, we inherently derail women who are incarcerated by defining them, and thier intentions as social beings, as that which is useless and therefore 'undeserving' of anything. /exchange/voice-prisons