By: Krystle Crossman
In the U.S., one out of 100 women are incarcerated. Hip-hop star Remy Ma was one of those women. She spent six years in prison after a charge of intentional assault during a fight over money in 2008. She was given an eight year sentence but was released early. She spoke out recently about the obstacles that women in prison face while they are in the system and after they are released.
Remy Ma told Huffpost that black women face a lot of obstacles in life that white women do not. Many have one parent in the home as opposed to two. Many live in poorer urban areas where crime is high and incomes are low. It is not just women that have to suffer with these obstacles either. Black men deal with high rates of separation from families and incarceration. One in six men are in prison in the U.S. as of 2001 according to a study by the NAACP. Ma noted that while she was in prison many of the women rarely got visitors. They were isolated from everyone and everything having to do with the outside world. The prison where she spent her time, Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in NY, houses almost 1,000 women, most forgotten by the friends and family in their lives. She stated that she has seen men’s prisons with long lines of visitors waiting to get into the building while the women’s prison visiting rooms remained cold and empty.
Once black women have been released from prison they find it very hard to assimilate back to their lives before lockup. Their criminal history goes with them wherever they go. It is hard to find a job that pays a decent living wage if you are a black woman with a criminal history. It can be hard to get financing for a car, find an apartment, or find someone to stay with until they can find a place of their own. Landlords are far less likely to rent to a black woman already but when they see that they have been convicted of a crime almost all landlords will turn them down. Many employers will not even look past the criminal history to see whether the woman applying for a job is qualified. This makes it very hard for them to get back to normal life and can lead down a dangerous path. Remy Ma says that even though you have done your time in prison the sentence is more like a life sentence and that the system is designed for black women to fail.