Your NPR news source

Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation with Beth Richie

Listen in to a conversation with scholar activist Beth Richie and a panel of activists working to end violence against women. This conversation is centered on Richie’s new book, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation, which shows that the threat of violence to black women has never been more serious.

SHARE Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation with Beth Richie

Listen in to a conversation with scholar activist Beth Richie and a panel of national and local activists working to end violence against women and to abolish the current prison system. This conversation is centered on Richie’s new book, Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation, which shows that the threat of violence to black women has never been more serious. Through the compelling stories of black women who have been most affected by racism, persistent poverty, class inequality, limited access to support resources or institutions, Richie argues that black women face particular peril because of the ways that race and culture have not figured centrally enough in the analysis of the causes and consequences of gender violence. Panelists explore issues of sexuality, class, age, and criminalization alongside questions of public policy and gender violence.

Beth E. Richie is the director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy and professor of African American studies and criminology, law, and justice at The University of Illinois at Chicago. The emphasis of her scholarly and activist work has been on the ways that race/ethnicity and social position affect women’s experience of violence and incarceration, focusing on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors. Dr. Richie is the author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation (NYU Press, 2012), which chronicles the evolution of the contemporary anti-violence movement during the time of mass incarceration in the United States. She is the author of numerous articles concerning black feminism and gender violence, race, and criminal justice policy, and the social dynamics around issues of sexuality, prison abolition, and grassroots organizations in African American communities. Her earlier book is Compelled to Crime: The Gender Entrapment of Black Battered Women, which is taught in many college courses and is cited in the popular press for its original arguments concerning race, gender, and crime. Dr. Richie is qualitative researcher who is also working on an ethnographic project documenting the conditions of confinement in women’s prisons. Her work has been supported by grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and The National Institute for Justice and The National Institute of Corrections. She has been awarded the Audre Lorde Legacy Award from the Union Institute, The Advocacy Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and The Visionary Award from the Violence Intervention Project. Dr. Richie is a board member of The Woods Fund of Chicago, The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African Community, The Center for Fathers’ Families and Public Policy, and a founding member of INCITE!: Women of Color Against Violence.

Panelists include:

Jane Hereth is an educator, organizer, and social worker. As a member of the Chicago Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) Teaching Collective, Jane facilitates workshops about the PIC for organizations around the city; most recently, she co-facilitated a workshop on alternatives to the PIC for survivors of sexual assault at the National Sexual Assault Conference. Jane is a founding member of LEAF (Liberation Education and Facilitation) Chicago and works for the Center on Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator, and writer who lives in Chicago. Her work focuses on ending violence, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and supporting youth leadership development. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a mission to end youth incarceration. Mariame has also co-founded several other organizations including the Chicago Freedom School, the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT), and the Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women. She is a published author and runs the blog “Prison Culture.” Mariame is and has always been a rabble-rouser and a history buff.

Sharmili Majmudar is the executive director of Rape Victim Advocates, an organization committed to ensuring that survivors of sexual assault are treated with dignity and compassion, and dedicated to affecting changes in the way the legal system, medical institutions, and society as a whole respond to survivors. She has worked for the liberation of communities from domestic and sexual violence for 20 years. She has also served on the advisory committee for Transforming Silence Into Action, a national gathering of queer Asian Pacific Islander (API) activists and advocates addressing intimate partner violence in API LGBT communities. She was a founding member of Khuli Zaban, a South and West Asian lesbian, bisexual and transgender women’s group.

Erica R. Meiners is a professor of gender and women’s studies, education, and Latin American studies at Northeastern Illinois University. She is a participant in local and national justice work, specifically anti-militarization campaigns, prison abolition movements, and queer and immigrant rights organizing. She is the author of Flaunt It! Queers Organizing for Public Education and Justice (2009), Right to be Hostile: Schools, Prisons and The Making of Public Enemies (2009), and articles in AREA Chicago, Meridians, Academe, Women’s Studies Quarterly and No More Potlucks. A beekeeper and a long distance runner, Erica is also a member of American Federation of Teachers, University Professional of Illinois, Local 4100.

Andrea Ritchie is a black lesbian police misconduct attorney who has engaged in extensive research, writing, litigation, organizing, and advocacy on profiling, policing, and physical and sexual violence by law enforcement agents against women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color over the past two decades. She currently coordinates Streetwise & Safe (SAS), a leadership development initiative aimed at sharing “know your rights” information, strategies for safety, and visions for change among LGBT youth of color. She serves on the steering committee of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), a city-wide campaign to challenge discriminatory, unlawful, and abusive policing practices in New York City. She is also co-author of Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Beacon Press 2011).

Mary Scott-Boria has been involved in social movements since coming to Chicago as a teenager in the late 60s, beginning as a member of the Black Panther Party and active in student movements in Chicago. With the campaigns of Harold Washington, Mary became involved in electoral politics and saw the possibilities of engaging community with emerging social policies. As the first director of the Chicago Sexual Assault Service Network, Mary’s work involved bridging anti-sexual assault initiatives with community-based efforts. For the past 13 years, Mary has engaged students in the city in this and other social justice initiatives through her teaching at the urban studies program with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. She’s also a mother of five and grandmother of nine (which gives life to her activism).

This event is co-moderated by Rachel Caidor and Alice Kim.


Recorded Saturday, December 1, 2012 at Experimental Station.

The Latest
A report says US police departments face a three-fold crisis: an erosion of community trust, a violent-crime surge, and dwindling police staffing. Host: Mary Dixon; Reporter: Chip Mitchell
David Brown was appointed superintendent of the Chicago Police Department less than three years ago.
The governor says he is visiting “liberal cities” who he says are too soft on crime.
The Bureau of Prisons is shutting down a unit at its newest penitentiary in Illinois, following an investigation by NPR and The Marshall Project that exposed it was rife with violence and abuse.