On March 29, Washington University will host Gender Impacts: Mothers and Reentry, a day-long symposium that will address questions about the impact on women and families when mothers are involved in the criminal justice system. WashU community members, including students, are encouraged to register and attend.
The United States incarcerates more of its citizens per capita than any other country in the world, and while many Americans know about this relatively recent rise in mass incarceration, few know that women make up the fastest growing segment of the prison population.
While the astronomical rise of incarcerated individuals in this country is a highly publicized matter, few realize that the female prison population has been rising about 1.5 times faster than the increase in the male population on an annual basis since 1980. This increase of incarcerated women has had and continues to have an enormous impact on children: approximately 64% of the incarcerated women lived with a minor child in the month before arrest versus 46.% of men, and nearly two-thirds of those women living with children were raising them in single-parent households. So when women go to prison, children are more likely to be impacted. The Gender Impacts symposium takes great interest in this subject, offering a platform to hear about the legal issues from case managers, social workers, court advocates, and a panel featuring women who have previously been incarcerated to learn directly from them about the challenges they faced.
Barbara Baumgartner, associate director or the Washington University Prison Education Project and organizer of the event, said “I am looking forward to gathering together a diverse group of people – those who work in non-profit agencies that provide assistance for those released from prison, people who work in corrections, academics and students from WashU, SLU, UMSL and other colleges and universities, and community members – to learn together, share ideas, and support each other.” She continued, “I hope everyone will learn more about mass incarceration in general, the impact of women in prison in particular, and a sense of energy and commitment to changing and improving our criminal justice system.”
The subject matter detailed in this symposium will be complex, compelling, and, most importantly, contemporarily relevant. The event will be held on Friday, March 29 in the Pillsbury Theater in the 560 Music Building. Students are encouraged to attend and come and go from the event as their schedule permits. The event is free for students, though they do have to register, and a schedule is listed online outlining the speakers and panels.
The Gender Impacts symposium is sponsored by the Washington University Prison Education Project, Let’s Start, the Center for Women in Transition, Connections to Success, the St. Louis Alliance for Reentry, the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, with funding from the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Public Engagement.