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Women's Report

Prisoner's Legal News is an excellent monthly magazine that I sincerely hope is generating interest and financial support, to which I will soon be adding.

The major concern among most women in prison is the welfare of their children, many of whom were declared to be wards of the state upon their mother's arrest. Over 90% of women in prison are mothers, and the majority of those are single mothers with sole custody of the children. What happens to the children of female prisoners?

Other than that, it has been my experience that most women in prison are not inclined to be actively interested in political issues. There are many reasons for this, including the low level of literacy and the havoc that drug abuse has wreaked upon their minds, but I believe that the fundamental reason lies much deeper. Most women who are in prison today have all their lives been dominated by another person, usually a male. They have been made to feel that they are powerless alone, and that they must be dependent and subservient in order to be acceptable. They have very low self-esteem, and they do not believe that they have any control over their future. The attitudes exhibited by them in prison are by-products of the low quality of their life outside of prison; thus, it cannot be expected that they would get locked up and suddenly become "revolutionary." After all, please remember that many of these women are so-called "street people." They have no stable home, they have no husband, they have no job, and they have no education. They do have drug and alcohol addictions and a basket full of babies. In prison they have food, clothing, shelter, and no responsibilities. My friend, I am neither cruel, naive, nor facetious. But so many women are so accustomed to domination that nothing inside them instinctively rebels (as it does in a man) against being told to go to your room, sit down, go to bed, be quiet, be "good," and "behave." Female prisoners are treated like small children and they timidly obey; therefore, they rarely incur the physical brutality rampant in prisons holding men.

All single cells are double bunked, some with beds less than two inches from the toilet. There are PCB's in our drinking water, and the smell, of the sewer rises from the sinks in our rooms and from the showers. Have the law clerks initiated litigation? Do reindeer really fly? Not only have they not initiated litigation, but they refuse to help those who express interest in filing suit. They don't want to get in any "trouble," don' t ya know.

LF, Dwight, Illinois

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