Study Finds Female Inmates Treated Harshly in Illinois Prisons

A new federally-funded study released this week concluded that women in the Illinois prison system are treated more harshly than their male counterparts and are often subject to unfair or unwarranted punishment.

The study conducted for the Illinois Department of Corrections by the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women’s assessment found that women receive harsher consequences for misconduct than males who have committed similar offenses, and that women – especially nonviolent women- are frequently identified as higher security risks than they truly are.

If you or a loved one are a woman serving time in prison and believe you have been subject to unfair treatment, one of our experienced attorneys with Trusted Prison Consultants can seek to make sure your rights are protected.

Unfair Discipline Results in Longer Stays in Prison

One of the most unfair aspects of the disproportionate punishments meted out by Illinois prison systems is the fact that the harsh disciplinary measures can lead to extended prison stays, with sentences being lengthened due to relatively minor infractions.

Another unfair result of the unbalanced treatment of women in the Illinois prison system included a higher-than-average recidivism rate when compared with that of the prison population as a whole – a figure that includes the male prisoners as well.

Common Types of Harsh Discipline Measures in Illinois Prisons

The federally-funded study focused on Illinois prisons’ treatment of female inmates included such harsh punishments as:

· Extreme segregation for the rest of the prison population;
· Being placed in a so-called discipline crisis cage, or unpadded stand-alone cell with no privacy;
· Barred from participating in re-entry programs to help women readjust to life outside prison;
· Prison staff quick to take away earned credits given for prior good conduct;
· Verbal abuse and calling female inmates “crazy,” or too talkative.

Factors Contributing to Incidence of Unnecessarily Harsh Discipline for Female Inmates in Illinois

· Overcrowding, as a result of consolidating two women’s prisons into a facility built with at least 500 too few spaces;
· Lack of adequate staffing or staff training to handle many of the emotional responses unique to female inmates;
· Lack of understanding of female inmates’ history prior to prison, including histories of sexual assault and problems relating to authority figures;
· Refusal to allow women to talk out problems at length;
· Increase in suicides and suicide attempts;
· Poor communication by all parties;
· Untreated mental health issues;
· Unreasonable rules and operational standards and practices.

Consult an Experienced Attorney with Trusted Prison Consultants

If you or a family member are imprisoned and believe you are being treated unfairly due to your gender, one of our prison consultants with the Trusted Prison Consultants can advocate for your fair and just treatment. Inmates have a right to be subject only to reasonable discipline and to feel safe, even when incarcerated. We will fight passionately to make sure your rights are respected.