Women Behind Bars Matter
by Gregory Thompson
Green Haven Prison Worship Group
Historic March 9th Rally and Press Conference Outside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility Held in Honor of Women Behind Bars
"The most disrespected person in America is the BLACK WOMAN..."
— Malcolm X, 1964
In commemoration of International Women's Month, the People's Campaign for Parole Justice relentlessly and tirelessly advocates for the rights of women behind bars.
The female incarcerated population stands over seven times higher than in 1980, according to Bureau of Justice statistics. With more than one million women behind bars or under the control of the criminal justice system, women are the fastest growing segment of the penal state. Oddly, the theater of Black men's pain obscures and overshadows other horrific realities in the criminal justice system's violence against these marginalized and vulnerable women (i.e., the new "Jane Crow:" women's mass incarceration).
Malcolm X warned that America was a racist prison state. Suffice it to say, fifty six years after his tragic death, it still is.
The trip to Bedford Hills took approximately 45 minutes by car. The weather was unseasonably warm for this time of the year, a beautiful sunny day ideal for a family picnic. To be honest I was, in fact, a bit reluctant at first; the thought of visiting a prison, after serving almost four decades behind bars, was indeed a harrowing experience to say the least. I enjoyed the scenic view as we drove along the beautiful Hudson Valley and made our way to the notorious women's prison in upstate New York. A phalanx of correction officers forming a perimeter in front of the facility, ominously greeted us like praetorian guards. The small group of women organizers were not distracted or unnerved. They continued to whip up the crowd into a frenzy...shouting into a megaphone "who is she?" "I am she!"
The hit song by the Staple Singers, "Let's Do It Again," could be heard blaring loudly in the background. Yes, let's do it again!
— Gregory Thompson, Member of the Prison Worship Group at Green Haven Correctional Facility; Released in December 2020.