Rachel Johnson @ In These Times. Excerpt below:
Some argue that, to truly address mass incarceration, it is necessary to advance policies towards rehabilitating—and freeing—people charged with violent crimes. A focus on ending the war on drugs is insufficient, as people charged with drug crimes make up a relatively small segment of the prison population. Activists have long noted that the binary of “violent” vs. “non-violent” charges is itself misrepresentative, as evidenced by the fact that survivors of domestic violence are often criminalized for how they defend themselves, and demonized as “violent offenders.”
[Cynthia] Nixon, notably, includes a plank to address this social problems, pledging to increase commutations and pardons for domestic violence survivors who commit “crimes” in self defense. The criminalization of survivors of gender violence is still largely overlooked. Media narratives, as well as policies like former President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, overwhelmingly depict the victims of police brutality and mass incarceration as young, black and male. While the #SayHerName movement has drawn more attention to black women killed at the hands of police, the concerns of incarcerated women and LGBTQ people are often not incorporated into mainstream criminal justice reforms.
That is changing, however, thanks to the hard work of organizers from groups like Love and Protect, which, in its own words, “supports those who identify as women and gender non-conforming persons of color who are criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence.” The #FreeThemNY campaign, which is “dedicated to freeing criminalized survivors of gender violence held in prisons in New York,” has also shined a spotlight on the issue, and Nixon’s platform reflects the insights of these activists.