Women and girls are the fastest growing segment of the prison population, yet the prevailing frames through which mass incarceration has been debated by lawyers, judges, policy-makers and advocates have largely ignored this population. While there is a sizable literature that calls for gender-responsive policies regarding women and girls in detention, these policies rarely attend to the racial demographics of incarcerated women and girls.
Using an intersectional lens to explore these dynamics, this course will examine various features of the school to prison pipeline that are gendered in ways that impact girls as well as address aspects of the war on drugs that have contributed to the overrepresentation of females of color who in under criminal justice supervision. We will consider conditions of confinement, as well as the consequences of collateral penalties (such as loss of child custody, housing and employment) that place a particularly harsh burden on women and girls. Finally we will consider and debate various strategies that might be mobilized to address the often hidden dimensions of policies and practices that make up the intersectional dimensions of the criminalization of women of color and girls. Included herein will be debates about the efficacy of litigation, policy advocacy, and radical “self-help” strategies advocated by prison abolitionists. Readings will include the selections drawn from the UCLA Symposium, “Overpoliced and Underprotected: Race, Gender and the Criminalization of Women of Color”; “Voices of the Unheard: Girls of Color the Pushout/Drop Out Crisis”; critical readings about re-alignment in California and the unexpected consequences for women and girls; literature exploring the effects of parallel and intersecting systems of social surveillance (child welfare system; entitlement systems; educational systems); and analysis of contemporary interventions that marginalize women and girls of color. (My Brother’s Keeper, etc.) The written work in this course will consist of written reactions to the readings. We will prompt students’ writing by posing specific questions.