This piece was written by a high school senior at the Chicago Waldorf High School. Her name is Elizabeth Wilson.
I believe it is an informative outside perspective. Comments are welcome.
When incarcerated in Illinois, many women do not receive adequate health care or treatment due to unsatisfactory funding and lack of sufficient attention. The majority of prisons lack quality care and many of their inmates to suffer throughout their incarceration without proper treatment. Through my research, I realized the most important issues for female prisoners are mothers’ rights, custodial care, rehabilitation and health care, specifically STD testing and treatment. Many legal advocates, healthcare professionals, mothers, sisters, fathers, sons and daughters of the incarcerated women have been working tirelessly to improve the healthcare system. They realize the need for a national movement where families can stand up for their relatives and create change. Health care within the criminal justice system is one of the most overlooked injustices our country faces today. As I followed this story and spoke to people who believe in reformation of the criminal justice system. I believe we are on the edge of change. I feel it is my responsibility to communicate the hard work that is taking place and motivate positive change within the criminal justice system.
There truly is a lack of awareness and understanding of the health care crisis for incarcerated women. Many people are working hard to improve the poor conditions prisoners face everyday. My mission for this project was to raise awareness in my school community, about the health care crisis for incarcerated women. Often issues about the criminal justice system are ignored because of moral beliefs that these women violated the law therefore they deserve nothing. It is also easy to forget about the rights of prisoners because inmates are isolated. What many people overlook, is that these prisoners are our sisters, mothers, daughters and friends, and shouldn’t be treated as social rejects. I hope I have raised awareness, so together we can rise up and help our sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. To provide sufficient health care, prisons are lacking what matters most: humane attention, funding and rehabilitation services. There is a cycle of poverty, poor education and abuse that lies in our history and our inner city communities across the nation. Women become imprisoned, do not receive proper services in the first place, become resentful and are released back onto the streets without sufficient follow- ups, and then raise a new generation who can easily repeat the cycle. We need to stop the cycle, raise awareness and fight for better services. Prisons need to provide rehabilitation instead of punishment. Rehabilitation would keep ex- convicts out of prison, keep non- violent offenders out of maximum security prisons, and teach people to become healthier, well- rounded citizens.