Most Women In Prison Are Moms — Advocates Want You To Remember Them On Mother’s Day, Too

By MORGAN BRINLEE
A Momma and her baby
A Momma and her baby

For most moms, Mother’s Day is a time to be celebrated. But for nearly 80 percent of the women currently incarcerated in the United States, Mother’s Day won’t mean flowers, pedicures, breakfast in bed, or even a day spent with their children. Instead it will mean another day behind bars, separated from family, and struggling with feelings of isolation and guilt. This Mother’s Day, however, advocates are working to raise awareness about the plights of incarcerated moms across the country.

In the last couple of decades, women have become the fastest growing group of people to be thrown behind bars, according to a 2016 report from the Vera Institute of Justice. Nearly 80 percent of incarcerated women in America are mothers with dependent children — a staggering statistic by any measure. And, more often than not, those mothers are single parents, the report found. That means that their children may be especially affected by the devastating consequences that can come along with having a mother incarcerated.

“When moms are jailed, the consequences for children can be devastating, from being shunted into the foster care system, to remaining home alone to fend for themselves,” Human Rights Watch has reported.

Formerly incarcerated women agree. “When you incarcerate women, you incarcerate the whole family,”

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Prison secrets: AL.com investigation finds prison bosses have little to fear from breaking the rules

Warden Carter Davenport (right) speaks to media members during a tour as State Senator Cam Ward (center) and Kim Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections listen at the St. Clair Correctional Facility Fri., March 16, 2012 in Springville, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale). (BERNARD TRONCALE)
Warden Carter Davenport (right) speaks to media members during a tour as State Senator Cam Ward (center) and Kim Thomas, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections listen at the St. Clair Correctional Facility Fri., March 16, 2012 in Springville, Ala. (The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale). (BERNARD TRONCALE)
By Casey Toner – on June 13, 2014 at 5:33 AM, updated March 12, 2016 at 1:48 PM

SPRINGVILLE, Alabama — On a routine cell transfer in 2012, a handcuffed inmate at St. Clair Correctional Facility had a few choice words that pricked the ear of Warden Carter Davenport.

Davenport, then a 24-year corrections veteran, wasn’t going to let it slide. Not in the state’s second-most-violent prison. Not from an inmate placed in segregation — a dorm reserved for the prison’s worst troublemakers.

Incensed, Davenport clenched his fist and cracked him in the head. When the inmate quieted down, Davenport removed his shackles and led him back to his cell.

In most places, it is a crime to punch a handcuffed man. But in Alabama’s correctional system, it is a merely a policy violation, which was documented in Davenport’s personnel file. There was no investigation of the case, no interview with the inmate, and no record made of his injuries. Davenport received a two-day suspension, which he served the following month.

An AL.com analysis of hundreds of personnel documents shows that the state’s wardens can flout the rules, take a slap on the wrist, return to work or transfer to other prisons. In fact, some wardens were promoted to their positions even after serving suspensions as lower-ranking officers for beating inmates or covering up beatings.

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Stop The Abuse. Please, We Need Outside Help

Here at Montgomery Women’s Facility we have been suffering sexual abuse, yet when we speak out we get ridiculed by our peers. Officers treat us like its our fault, we walk on eggshells fearing retaliation and the guilty Officers of abuse, are only transferred. Our story becomes well spread between the inmates and other Officers at the other female facilities – Tutwiler and Birmingham Work Centre.

Statement alleging systemic abuse at Montgomery Women's Facility
Statement alleging systemic abuse at Montgomery Women’s Facility

There is no peace for us anywhere. One woman spoke out here about her suffering of sexual abuse form an Officer as well as mental and emotional abuse from his co-workers and she became ostracised from inmates, from all 3 female facilities. The Officer she reported, told her if she ever told, he would make sure that she was protested at each parole hearing.

In Alabama, if one has protesters then the individual is denied parole and put off for 5 years. Here at Montgomery Women’s Facility we also suffer verbal abuse from Officers as well as employees who work here.The employee who runs our canteen, abuses us constantly. She has cursed some of us, calling us “bitches and hoes”. When we report her, she retaliates by “losing our store slip” and prevents us from getting our food and hygienes.

The other day, a girl left the canteen in tears after this employee called her a heifer and told the girl she could talk to her anyway she fashioned. Then a few minutes later this employee was yelling out another girl, telling her to get her greasy hair head away from her. These girls went to the Officer who is a Lieutenant, who is in charge of grievances against Officers/Employess and this Lieutenant told them that she didn’t have time for this trivial crap.

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This place is inhumane and we’ve lost all our rights, but no one should ever lose the right to be human

I’ve heard that Tutwiler is listed as one of the 10 most dangerous prisons in the country and i find it hard to believe that Montgomery Womens Facility is not on that list. Do people not realise that most of those same officers that helped get Tutwiler on that 10 most dangerous prisons list, have now been transferred here to Montgomery Women’s Facility?

This place is inhumane and we've lost all our rights, but no one should ever lose the right to be human
This place is inhumane and we’ve lost all our rights, but no one should ever lose the right to be human

I understand that the equal Justice Department has implemented numerous things to try to make it just a tad bit safer & a little more human (e.g.) Prison Rape Elimination Act, a grievance system for us to be able to report problems we may be having with an officer etc. My question is what good are those things when the person you report to is “friends” with all the officers and assumes the officer is always right, and the inmate is always wrong?

When we report to Lt. Bentford, she just sweeps it under the rug and nothing even goes into the officers file. When officers get promoted to Sergeant after getting into numerous physical altercations with numerous inmates, then something is wrong, especially when we are expected to follow the rules, but no-one  in authority here is made to follow any rules. They do what they want, when they want and we have to accept that because we are just inmates, right?

Wrong! In case society has forgotten, then let me remind you that all of us here are somebody’s daughter, mother, sister, wife and friend. Yes, we have made mistakes that landed us in hell, but we are not any less human because we messed up. I just need to know where the rehabilitation comes from? We have hardly any classes here, no social workers to help with rebuilding relationships with our kids & families, no job training skills – Nothing- And we are expected to get out of here and magically know how to operate in a world that has become so technologically advanced that you can now turn the heat on in your house by using an app on your iPhone.

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An inmates prayer for help at Montgomery Women’s Facility

To All:

I write in hope that all who read this, take it to heart. When a person loses their liberty and becomes incarcerated, the punishment is the loss of said liberty. According to Websters New World Dictionary, the definition of liberty is “Freedom from slavery, captivity etc.”. A particular right, freedom etc. The definition for inmate is “A person confined with others in a prison or mental institution”. The definition of prison is “A place of confinement for convicted criminals or persons who are awaiting trial”.

A prayer for help at Montgomery Women's Facility
A prayer for help at Montgomery Women’s Facility

Nowhere in these definitions or even the law does it say that during an inmates loss of liberty whilst being confined to prison, is it acceptable to abuse, mistreat, belittle or otherwise punish an inmate. Here at Montgomery Women’s Facility all of the above and worse take place. The reason people, yes i said people, here don’t speak out is because they are in fear of retaliation.

There are posters all over this facility about PREA and extortion. It is for show only. They went through PREA “Training”. They say they know what is supposed to happen, how we are supposed to be treated, but do as they please anyway. It is all for show for the Department Of Justice, lawyers and Commissioners, They do not follow it.

I personally know things about this place, things i have been through and have witnessed, but to come forward would be huge retaliation. All you have to do is look at the outcome of one inmate who came forward, to see how said retaliation degraded her. It mentally, physically and spiritually broke her down and left her feeling even more abused.

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What it “feels like” to be incarcerated in Montgomery Womens Facility

Alabama Department Of Corrections, Ha!
It should read, Alabama Department Of Corruption. The sad part of it all, is that society doesn’t even realize they’re being scammed by the state. They pay tax dollars to keep housing inmates who reform themselves. Funding for this class, funding for that class. All that does is fill someone’s wallet up and add extra digits to their bank accounts. All inmates get is an A/A big book to read out of. That book has got to be under $30.00. At the end of the day it’s a choice everyone makes, to use alcohol and drugs or not to. All the funding in the world for classes will not stop someone from returning to prison.

Where is the logic in that? Much less paying for my three meals a day, all medicines, doctor visits, dental care, eye care and wear, rent, water, electricity, heating, cooling, toilet paper, tampons, pads, shirts, pants, coat, panties, bras, socks, shoes, shorts, t-shirts, pyjamas, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, hair grease, comb, brush, my clothes washed daily, and get those who pay for all this, protest me for parole so that I can stay longer in prison with all these accommodations.

Question – who’s punished and who isn’t? Being a model inmate hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

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What Is Going On With Visitation?

For several months now, the process of being booked in for visitation has gone from bad to worse. We are hearing complaints from friends and family of the women who arrive 10-15 minutes early and are ready at the booking in shack, yet the correctional officers do not even bother coming over to process people in until the official start time of visitation.

Inside news from Montgomery Women's Facility
Inside news from Montgomery Women’s Facility

As of the weekend December 5th-6th, it was observed that most families and friends were inline by 10-20am on Sunday December 6th, but the officers did not appear with Lt. Mason until at least 10:30am it then took the officers almost 45 minutes to process the people in, that is totally unacceptable given that visitation is only 3 hours long.

One family member told us, “they get us in late and kick us out early”. Some people arrive with very young children and adversely some families arrive with older relatives, the correctional officers should start processing people in earlier so that people get as much time with their loved ones as possible. Visitation is vitally important for maintaining the family bond.

We suggest that people start contacting Warden Ellington with their concerns on (334) 215-0756 or the Commissioners Office, Please add your comments below, and if all else fails then contact us and we will pass on your complaint or concern.