Play Explores Struggles of Imprisoned Women

Posted on April 13, 2011



The number of women in prison jumped 888% between 1986 and 1996, and the number continues to increase.

IU’s Rethinking Incarceration drew attention to the struggles women face in prison last weekend in their production of “Any One of Us: Words from Prison” by Eve Ensler.

Co-founder of Rethinking Incarceration, Ronak Shah, outlined reasons for the increase in women inmates, “You have a lot more judges who are more willing to incarcerate women than before. There was definitely a period in the 50s where they were like, ‘Oh, she’s a woman, she’s soft.'”

What is perhaps more concerning to groups like Shah’s than the amount of women going into prisons, is the abuse some of the women suffer when they get there.

“Seven or eight years ago, several officers were arrested at the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis for allegedly being involved in sex acts with women who were incarcerated,” William Oliver, criminal justice professor at IU, said.

“Any One of Us” explored the theme of cyclical abuse– Over half of all imprisoned women have suffered physical or sexual abuse before entering prison, and for some, it continues once they are incarcerated.

“It’s hard to get data on it, but most estimates are that somewhere between 70-80% of all women who are incarcerated have suffered some form of abuse,” Shah said.

The proceeds from Friday and Saturday’s shows are going to the John P. Craine House of Indianapolis. Lori Murray of the Craine House described it as an alternative sentencing program that attempts to stop cyclical abuse.

Shah said he believes programs like these should be embraced, “Alternatives, in my opinion, that keep family ties together and don’t separate them are immeasurably better.”


Hoosier News Source: Women in Prisons

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