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Shackling isn’t about safety. It’s about punishing those deemed unfit and undesirable for exercising the choice to become mothers.

To be a woman in this society is to be vulnerable physically, financially, and politically. 33 percent of women have been the victim of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio. Hundreds of thousands of women are positioned to lose access to birth control without a copayment after the Trump administration rolled back an Obamacare regulation that required employers to provide birth control in their health insurance plans. Additionally, women in jails are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the United States. This rapid growth is linked to trauma, sexual violence, and mental health issues. Of the over 200,000 women in jail or prison, around 6 percent are pregnant while incarcerated. Only 22 states and the District of Columbia have laws against shackling pregnant incarcerated women, but this inhumane practice still takes place in these states because of nonspecific language about shackling pregnant women during transportation to medical facilities and first, second, and third trimesters. Essentially, pregnant women are being illegally restrained, and it’s difficult and often dangerous for these women to speak up for themselves. Often times, these women have already grown accustomed to maltreatment and abuse of power from prison employees.
Related: NEW BILL HOPES TO END THE HORRORS SUFFERED BY INCARCERATED WOMEN

This Labor Day all activists, organizers, advocates, and progressives need to remain cognizant of the plight of the incarcerated, whose labor often is left out of the discourse.

By Devyn Springer While Labor Day has become synonymous with simply being known as the long weekend filled with barbecues, cheap cocktails, and laughs with friends, it is historically much more than that; it is meant to be a celebration of the radical trade unionists and organizers of the early Labor Movement which is responsible for many of our worker’s rights today. Moreover, it should be a celebration of the worker, the contributions to the world the laborers make, and a transgression against current abuses and exploitations workers face. This year massive protests and demonstrations across the country have taken place to demand high minimum wages, particularly the #FightFor15 organizations call for a $15 minimum wage. In other parts of the country immigrants folks are also marching for the rights of immigrant workers, especially in relation to the recent news that Trump has declared war on DACA recipients. While these causes are important, noble, and timely, there is a population of workers whose plight and labor is overlooked each year: the incarcerated. In our conceptualization of “labor,” “laborers,” and “workers,” we often naturally overlook the labor of incarcerated people, which is not a coincidence. Not just their labor, but their conditions and lives as well are often overlooked in most public discourse, as the prison system is this way by design. In most states, the geography of prisons alone is enough to create this erasure; state and federal prison facilities are often places on the outskirts of towns, hour-long drives away from cities. Incarcerated populations are, often quite literally, out of sight and out of mind to the general public, thus the plight of their struggles and their labor is naturally disregarded.
Related: A Primer on the Prison Industrial Complex in America

Most women in prison are the victims of abuse and suffer from mental health issues–inhumane prison conditions aren’t helping.

By Andie Park Earlier this month, Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren publicly introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, a landmark bill to improve living conditions for female inmates who are also the primary caretakers of their families. Some of the provisions of the bill address fairly straightforward and common-sense needs such as creating better access to feminine hygiene products and expanding visitation policies for the families of inmates. Other provisions, however, reveal a more horrifying system of abuse in federal facilities for women. Until the introduction of this bill, the shackling of pregnant inmates was still legal. In federal facilities, several women sacrifice the decision to make a phone call to family members in order to buy box a tampons from their commissary – or vice versa – due to the exorbitant costs tied to each choice. The alarmingly vast lack of protections stems from the institutional inability to include women in legal discussions for reform. Whether it be solitary confinement or going into childbirth while shackled, these actions were still technically legal mainly because legislative measures never accounted for the difference of struggles between female and male inmates. Ultimately, the bill is a push for the Bureau of Prisons to confront its own gender bias and make concentrated efforts to not only protect female inmates but also restore a semblance of human dignity during their incarceration.
Related: ON ITS FOURTH BIRTHDAY, BLACK LIVES MATTER DOUBLES DOWN ON AN INTERSECTIONAL AGENDA

The new HBO series is slated to do what Hollywood has done for decades: fictionalize very real Black pain for profit.

On Wednesday, HBO announced that after the conclusion of Game of Thrones, the network will tap the show creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, for a new alternate history series called Confederate. The show is set in a fictionalized timeline where the South seceded from the Union and where slavery has continued into the modern era. The cast is complete with a suite of slave hunters, Confederate politicians, and even a group of slaveholding executives and the families they control. From the looks of it, HBO's new series Confederate is slated to do what Hollywood has done for decades: fictionalize very real Black pain for commercial profit. After all, this show’s premise proposes to create a “fictionalized” plot about the continuation of slavery, as if thousands of American farmers and corporations didn't continue to practice slavery well into the 1940s. The show acts as if the latter half of the twentieth century didn't see America's prison population swell with millions of Black bodies. It pretends that today’s prisons and venerable corporations don't exploit the 13th amendment to profit from forced prison labor. HBO’s Confederate imagines that there aren't more people under state control today than there were in chains at the peak of American slavery.
Related: THEY CANCELED “UNDERGROUND” BECAUSE WHITE PEOPLE DON’T LIKE NON-COMPLIANT SLAVES

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