Free Minds & Free Markets

For Female Inmates, Talking Back is More Likely to End in a Trip to Solitary

Women prisoners are more likely to receive solitary confinement and other harsh punishments for minor infractions like "reckless eye-balling."

|||Karen Foley/Dreamstime.comKaren Foley/Dreamstime.comPrisons are more likely to give women serious punishments for minor infractions, according to a new collaborative report from NPR, The Social Justice News Nexus, and The Chicago Reporter.

In California, Vermont, and Rhode Island, for example, women were anywhere from two to three times as likely to receive disciplinary action for such infractions as "disrespect," "disobedience," and "derogatory comments" against corrections officers and inmates. Depending on the state, such infractions meant longer prison time, restrictions in family visits, loss of shopping privileges at the prison commissary for items such as food and women's hygiene products, or even solitary confinement.

One former inmate, Celia Colon, told NPR that she received a disciplinary ticket for "reckless eye-balling" after she made a face when an officer gave an order. The led to an unspecified amount of time in solitary confinement.

Maggie Burke, a former warden at Illinois' Logan Correctional Center, told investigators that corrections officers tend to "discipline based on emotion rather than on safety and security." Are facilities truly being made safer, she asked, if women who "talked back" are being put in solitary? A November 2016 audit of her old facility found that an overuse of solitary confinement helped exacerbate poor mental health conditions among the prisoners. Suicide attempts at the prison had increased from one a month to 10.

About 61,000 people were kept in solitary confinement in 2017 for up to 22 hours a day. Though the number has declined over the past five years, mental health professionals argue that those unfortunate enough to experience this punishment are essentially victims of torture. Many prison reformers argue that it violates the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishments."

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...corrections officers tend to "discipline based on emotion rather than on safety and security."

    Caged feelz.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Linda Blair in Caged Women.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    What's Caged Heat, chopped liver?

  • SIV||

  • Pro Libertate||

    Sorry, I didn't realize that I was surrounded by experts in the field. I was just making stuff up on the fly.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    SIV recreated Born Innocent in his barn with his chickens. It took a lot of effort. Do you know how hard it is to train a chicken to use plunger handle strap-on?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Get thee behind us, Satulpatanic Satulpan!

  • MSimon||

    Yackety Yack. Don't Talk Back.

  • SIV||

    Male privilege strikes again!

  • Ordinary Person||

    I mean don't we have that? I feel like I do.

  • Fancylad||

    Male privilege in women's prisons may be phantasmagoric, but that doesn't mean it's a serious issue. Millions of women suffer from the suppositional trauma of theoretical prison patriarchy each year.

  • ||

    I don't care. Men are far more likely to get locked up.

    Sure, you're 5X more likely to get shanked and 8X more likely to get raped for no reason at all in a male prison but the real inhumanity is that we'll revoke a woman's shopping privileges for making a face at a guard.

  • SQRLSY One||

    It is because men are for more likely to act evil and stupid, like you!

    Satulpatanic Satulpan:

    In days of old,
    When knights were bold,
    And toilets weren't invented,
    We stopped by the road,
    And dropped our load,
    And walked away contented!

    The days of old are over now... We have toilets now. Please be considerate of others, and drop your loads there, instead of a nice, clean, rational web site like!

  • Fancylad||

    rational web site like
    I chuckled.
    Maybe back when Postrel was still alive.

  • Mr. JD||

    The guards are more likely to be women, and women are catty.

    What a revelation.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I was actually wondering if that could be studied a little further. Like what is the gender makeup of women's prisons from the management/Warden on down to the guards. And it would be interesting to see if women-run correctional institutions were run fundamentally different from their male counterparts.

  • 68W58||

    As I've mentioned on here before I worked in a (male) close custody prison for two years. When we attended CO school it was explained to us that in a female prison only females could work in a housing unit (males would work in programs or one of the control booths). But in our prison females worked in the male housing areas-go figure. Anyway, very much more likely that most of this comes from female COs.

  • AB Negative||

    Reckless-Eyeballing is my new band name.

    (somebody had to say it...)

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    For Female Inmates, Talking Back is More Likely to End in a Trip to Solitary

    What about Taking The Black? And no, I am not talking about African-American penises.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Get thee behind us, Satulpatanic Satulpan!

  • Fancylad||

    Did Hihn infect SQRLSY?

  • ||

    loss of shopping privileges

    Worse than solitary. Matter of fact, solitary wouldn't be so bad as long as you could still go shopping.

  • lap83||

    That is actually my preferred way of shopping

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I am sure each cell in the hole has an iPad mini with access to Amazon. I mean, we are not monsters.

  • Dillinger||

    not my fault they're too stupid to know they rule the world

  • Idle Hands||

    What happens when they talk back twice?

  • SQRLSY One||

    We have to give them a spanking, a spanking!

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    It wouldn't be an issue if women could just keep their mouth shut, amirite, fellas?

  • Rich||

    women were anywhere from two to three times as likely to receive disciplinary action for such infractions as "disrespect," "disobedience," and "derogatory comments"

    How many times more likely were they to *do* such things?

  • Fancylad||

    Something tells me your average psychopathic narcotraficante doesn't roll his eyes and mutter "bitch" under his breath when Correctional Officer Schmitt tells him it's time to come in from the yard.

  • shortviking||

    Call me naive as fuck, but I've never understood what is so bad about solitary. Do you WANT to socialize with inmates on a daily basis?

  • chrispy||

    I assume the author means that women are more likely than men to be sent to solitary, but the article never specifies. Nothing can simply be "more likely," it has to be more likely than something. Maybe women are more likely to be sent to solitary today than they were 10 years ago, or maybe women in the US are more likely to be sent to solitary than are women in other countries, but who knows? This is not a very well written post.


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