The Atlantic

Women in Prison Take Home Economics, While Men Take Carpentry

Decades after a government report on deep inequity in the vocational offerings of the nation's criminal-justice system, little has changed.
Source: Adrees Latif / Reuters

The Government Accountability Office did not mince words in the top line of a 1980 report to Congress on inequitable treatment of women in prison: “Women in correctional institutions are not provided comparable services, educational programs, or facilities as men prisoners.”

Incarcerated women had been filing lawsuits—and they had been winning. Their conditions, they argued, violated their constitutional rights: Indifference to medical needs was cruel and unusual punishment, . In some instances that male guards’ that failing to provide parity in vocational programming was a Fourteenth-Amendment violation. Those victories forced the government to take notice. That unfair treatment, the GAO said, required action.

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