Prison guards raping and otherwise abusing women is a remarkably widespread problem. Although Team Posner Law Group is not yet operational with staff and offices (we are helping a few folks, but much more work lies ahead!), I have suggested to Dick that we have a Team Posner Law Group Strike Force, to go after the worst of the worst abusers in the criminal justice system. God willing, we will have plenty of “cream of the crop” lawyers on that Strike Force, and this will be one area where we strike! 🙂
With the dawn of these promising times to end sexual exploitation and abuse of women, we must not forget the most vulnerable: female inmates.
Excerpts from the Article:
In 2005, 26-year-old Paris Knox was living in Chicago with her 13-month-old son. Her relationship with her baby’s father, Malteeny Taylor, was characterized by violence and abuse. During their time together, he not only hit her but, even with others present, pulled her by the hair down the street and smacked her to the ground. On May 21, 2005, Taylor attacked Knox in her home. She defended herself, an act that ultimately resulted in his death and her arrest. At trial, witnesses testified that Knox and Taylor’s relationship was “tumultuous” and that arguments frequently escalated to verbal and physical abuse. Nonetheless, the jury convicted Knox of first-degree murder and she was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In 2017, after 13 years behind bars, Knox’s conviction and 40-year sentence were vacated due to ineffective assistance of counsel. She was transferred from Logan Correctional Center, one of Illinois’s two state women’s prisons, to Chicago’s Cook County Jail, where she remains while she awaits a new trial. Bail has been set at $500,000. To post bond and secure her pretrial freedom, family members and friends would need to pay $50,000, a price tag that they cannot afford.
The recent increased media attention and public rallying behind survivors of sexual abuse have largely centered around white women, particularly celebrity white women. Although the “Me Too” campaign was created by Tarana Burke, a Black woman, particularly for women of color, the recent conversations have, by and large, omitted Black women and other women of color. In the few instances when their accusations do hit headlines, their experiences are often dismissed and their words discredited.
Black women are disproportionately impacted by both domestic and state violence.
As noted previously on Truthout, Black women are disproportionately impacted by both domestic and state violence. The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that approximately 4 out of 10 Black women have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community noted that while Black women are 8 percent of the country’s population, they account for 22 percent of intimate partner homicide victims (of all genders) and 29 percent of all female victims of domestic violence homicides. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Black women are more than twice as likely to be killed by their partner than white women.
At the same time, Black women are disproportionately incarcerated. In 2013 and again in 2015, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the imprisonment rate for Black women was twice that of white women.
However, no national agency keeps track of how often domestic and state violence intersect — for Black women or for anyone else caught in the criminal legal system. In 1977, a study from Cook County Jail found that 40 percent of women charged with murdering their partners reported that these partners had been abusive. Each woman had called police at least five times; many had already separated in an attempt to escape the abuse. Over two decades later, in 1999, the US Department of Justice found that nearly half of all women in local jails and state prisons had experienced abuse before their arrests. No nationwide statistics have been released since then.
Will the current increase in attention to women’s experiences of sexual harassment and violence mean a shift in policy and practice toward criminalized abuse survivors?
“I certainly hope so,” said Holly Krig, the director of organizing of the Chicago-based grassroots group Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration (MUAVI). At the same time, she worries that the stories that have been highlighted by mainstream and social media — of mostly white celebrity women — might reinforce notions of what a victim looks like: notions that exclude survivors who are women of color, trans, poor and/or have past histories with law enforcement.
“It’s hard for me to see what’s currently happening transforming the criminal punishment system, a system that is set up to oppress women and gender non-conforming people,” Kaba said. She noted that anecdotal evidence points to the fact that, though general awareness about domestic violence has increased in recent years, the number of criminalized survivors does not seem to have decreased.