African American Women in the Prison System

Essay by brighteyes70746University, Master'sA, March 2005

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Minority women in America face their "double jeopardy" status daily. The lower paying jobs, the lack of resources offered and available, perceived higher numbers of violent relationships and the inability to be looked at as an equal member of American society due to the white man's standards, just to name a few. These women are looked upon as being "less than" from the time they are very young, which is the most important time in a child's development. Minority women are classified as "troublemakers" and "deviants" and grow up fulfilling the duties of this classification that has been forced upon them. Women in the prison system are a growing concern in our society, and it is not difficult to see that the majority of women in the system are minority females, primarily African American women. This essay is written to uncover how our American society shapes African-American women's perceptions of themselves beginning at a young age and strengthening throughout their lives; also some of the problems women face while incarcerated; and lastly, women's experiences after their release from incarceration.

Labeling our Youth

Labeling theory states that "deviance is seen as a consequence of society's decision to apply that term to a person, and deviant behavior is behavior that society labels as deviant."(Reid, 2003) Labeling theory is explained best as the ideas/prejudices used by society to generalize and exaggerate characteristics of a certain gender, class or race category of a person, which subsequently causes stereotypes to be formed and change an individual's view of themselves and their role in society. Throughout American and some European history, African American men and women have been considered in all aspects inferior and incompetent in comparison to the white men and women. Stereotypes of this culture include the ideas that all African Americans are...