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NEWS & IDEAS

New York Times and Netflix Reveal Disturbing Truths about Women's Prison

“When you incarcerate a woman, you incarcerate her whole family" -Rusti Miller-Hill

Lining up with the second season of "Orange is the New Black," The New York Times and Netflix have published a provocative and poignant multimedia piece, “Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work” to draw attention to the often-overlooked issues around women's prisons. Click through the gallery to read the women's stories.

According to the Pew, one in 28 children is the child of an incarcerated parent. The collage of animations, video, and text argues the different considerations needed for female prisons as compared to those for men, with child welfare as one of the main concerns.   

The feature opens with a chilling statistic: “Over the past three decades, the number of women serving time in American prisons has increased more than eightfold.” Unfortunately, the increasing number of prisoners has not been met with new facilities or improved infrastructure. As a result, many women are moved to prisons far away from their families. For women who have been their child’s primary caregivers, that separation is both devastating and detrimental to their children’s lives. 

“When you incarcerate a woman, you incarcerate her whole family. Everybody does the time, whether you realize it or not,” Rusti Miller-Hill says. She spent two-and-a-half years in prison for drug possession. “I didn’t fight for my kids, and when I began to realize what my rights were as an incarcerated parent, it was too late. My children were being adopted and I haven’t seen them since. It’s been over 20 years,” she told The Times.  

“Women Inmates” brings together an array of perspectives on incarceration, including several mothers who spent years apart from their children. Some speak on the value of beauty in a prison environment where monotony rules, while others remember the friends they made behind bars. Each woman tells her personal story, too: how she ended up in prison and, if she got out, how she re-entered life as a free woman. The New York Times and Netflix gather a variety of voices to create a multi-dimensional story that is in turns sad, angry, and hopeful. By the end, everyone involved argues for change. 

Image Source: The New York Times