As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to recognize and honor all of our amazing mothers, drawing particular attention to our mothers who are currently or formerly incarcerated. Since 1986, there has been a 400% increase in the rate of incarceration for women, and a 800% for black women. As I discussed in a previous blog, “Mothers Sentenced to Lose their Children,” our socialized perceptions of individuals in prison or who have gone to prison often overshadow the strength and commitment to parenting that these mothers exhibit in spite of the numerous odds stacked against them.
This Sunday as some of us prepare to make phone calls to our mothers and/or children across state, or across many states, I ask us to take note of the many incarcerated mothers for whom phone calls are not available. Although it is recognized that phone calls are important to maintaining family contacts, calls are limited to 20 minutes and are financially impossible for most women. One 20 minute phone may cost up to $48.25: a $25 minimum to set up an account, a $3.50 connection fee for out-of-state calls, a 50 cent fee for each additional minute, and a $7.95 transaction and convenience fee each time funds are added. Collect calls cannot be made without a $25 minimum. This is extremely difficult when we consider that the pay for work in prisons ranges from 25 to 50 cents per hour.
photo credit: The Daily Beast