Womanist Bioethics: Food Security, Faith-Based Reentry, & Women's Mass Incarceration
Morris, Nicole Taylor
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CitationMorris, Nicole Taylor. 2020. Womanist Bioethics: Food Security, Faith-Based Reentry, & Women's Mass Incarceration. Master's thesis, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractPURPOSE This paper explores faith-based reentry programs as a site of intervention to the cycle of poverty, trauma, and recidivism that contributes to the exponential growth rate of women’s mass incarceration in the United States, specifically as it affects Black women. It provides an overview of women’s mass incarceration with a particular focus on food insecurity as an aspect of poverty that contributes to recidivism and that has been exploited as a tool for punishing offenses related to illicit drug use, sanctioned by federal policy. While food insecurity is the primary aspect of poverty, exploitation, and recidivism that this paper explores, it is important to note that it is only one particular piece of the plethora of structural and interpersonal systems of power and oppression that contribute to women’s mass incarceration. The intervention posed aims to address these larger-scale issues of recidivism and incarceration, particularly for Black women, rather than addressing food security individually. This paper makes the case that in addition to faith-based programming and services that support women during incarceration, programs that emphasize dignity, humanity, and power for formerly incarcerated folks are necessary as sites for healing and reintegration to community. METHODS This paper uses secondary data and particularly explores how low-income Black women are disproportionately impacted by women’s mass incarceration and specifically by policy that affects food security by limiting or eliminating SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits due to drug-related offenses. Secondary data is also used to assess the role that faith-based organizations, which is broadly-defined in this paper and will be discussed in greater detail, can play in reentry programming and addressing challenges post-incarceration, including food insecurity, that contribute to recidivism. RESULTS We find that women's incarceration in Morris 1 the US has increased exponentially since 1980 and that women are primarily incarcerated for crimes related to substance use, mental health, and property--these arrests disproportionately impact low-income Black women. We find that food insecurity acts as both a cause and effect of women's incarceration in this population and that current policy regarding incarceration and SNAP benefits most specifically affects women impacted by substance use. We also find that faith-based programs are uniquely positioned to play a significant role in reentry for this population and reducing recidivism. CONCLUSIONS Faith-based reentry programs are positioned to play a key role in reducing recidivism for women facing poverty-related challenges post-incarceration.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37370550
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