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Women Prisoners Sterilized To Cut Welfare Cost In California
In California, prison doctors have sterilized at least 148 women, mainly Mexicans, from 2006 to 2010. Why? They don’t want to have to provide welfare funding for any children they may have in the future and to eliminate ‘defectives’ from the gene pool.
The sterilization procedures cost California taxpayers $147,460 between 1997 and 2010. The doctors at the prison argue it is money well-spent.
Dr. James Heinrich, an OB-GYN at Valley State Prison for Women, said, “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”
In 1909, California passed the country’s third sterilization law, authorizing reproductive surgeries of patients committed to state institutions for the “feebleminded” and “insane” that were deemed suffering from a “mental disease which may have been inherited and is likely to be transmitted to descendants.” Based on this eugenic logic, 20,000 patients in more than ten institutions were sterilized in California from 1909 to 1979. Worried about charges of “cruel and unusual punishment,” legislators attached significant provisions to sterilization in state prisons. Despite these restrictions, about 600 men received vasectomies at San Quentin in the 1930s when the superintendent flaunted the law.
Moreover, there was a discernible racial bias in the state’s sterilization and eugenics programs. Preliminary research on a subset of 15,000 sterilization orders in institutions (conducted by Stern and Natalie Lira) suggests that Spanish-surnamed patients, predominantly of Mexican origin, were sterilized at rates ranging from 20 to 30 percent from 1922 to 1952, far surpassing their proportion of the general population.
In her recent book, Miroslava Chávez-García shows, through exhaustively researched stories of youth of color who were institutionalized in state reformatories, and sometimes subsequently sterilized, how eugenic racism harmed California’s youngest generation in patterns all too reminiscent of detention and incarceration today. California was the most zealous sterilizer, carrying out one-third of the approximately 60,000 operations performed in the 32 states that passed eugenic sterilization laws from 1907 to 1937.
Although such procedures may seem harsh, they are not illegal. The Supreme Court ruled in 1927 that women can be forcibly sterilized in jail in Buck vs Bell. Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
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Michelle Alexander: White men get rich from legal pot, black men stay in prisonMarch 14, 2014
Ever since Colorado and Washington made the unprecedented move to legalize recreational pot last year, excitement and stories of unfettered success have billowed into the air. Colorado’s marijuana tax revenue far exceeded expectations, bringing a whopping $185 million to the state and tourists are lining up to taste the budding culture (pun intended). Several other states are now looking to follow suit and legalize. 
But the ramifications of this momentous shift are left unaddressed. When you flick on the TV to a segment about the flowering pot market in Colorado, you’ll find that the faces of the movement are primarily white and male. Meanwhile, many of the more than  210,000 people who were arrested for marijuana possession in Colorado between 1986 and 2010 according to a report from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, remain behind bars. Thousands of black men and boys still sit in prisons for possession of the very plant that’s making those white guys on TV rich.
“In many ways the imagery doesn’t sit right,” said Michelle Alexander, associate professor of law at Ohio State University and author of  The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in a  public conversation on March 6 with Asha Bandele of the  Drug Policy Alliance.  “Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?”
Alexander said she is “thrilled” that Colorado and Washington have legalized pot and that Washington D.C. decriminalized possession of small amounts earlier this month. But she said she’s noticed “warning signs” of a troubling trend emerging in the pot legalization movement: Whites—men in particular—are the face of the movement, and the emerging pot industry. (A recent In These Times article titled “ The Unbearable Whiteness of Marijuana Legalization,” summarize this trend.)
Alexander said for 40 years poor communities of color have experienced the wrath of the war on drugs.
“Black men and boys” have been the target of the war on drugs’ racist policies—stopped, frisked and disturbed—“often before they’re old enough to vote,” she said. Those youths are arrested most often for nonviolent first offenses that would go ignored in middle-class white neighborhoods.
“We arrest these kids at young ages, saddle them with criminal records, throw them in cages, and then release them into a parallel social universe in which the very civil and human rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights movement no longer apply to them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “They can be discriminated against [when it comes to] employment, housing, access to education, public benefits. They’re locked into a permanent second-class status for life. And we’ve done this in precisely the communities that were most in need of our support.”
As Asha Bandele of DPA pointed out during the conversation, the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. Today, 2.2 million people are in prison or jail and 7.7 million are under the control of the criminal justice system, with African American boys and men—and now women—making up a disproportionate number of those imprisoned.
Alexander’s book was published four years ago and spent 75 weeks on the New York Timesbestseller list, helping to bring mass incarceration to the forefront of the national discussion.
Alexander said over the last four years, as she’s been traveling from state to state speaking to audiences from prisons to universities about her book, she’s witnessed an “awakening.” More and more people are talking about mass incarceration, racism and the war on drugs.
Full article
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