reynolds - ©2008 NWSA Journal Vol 20 No 2(Summer The War...

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Unformatted text preview: ©2008 NWSA Journal, Vol. 20 No. 2 (Summer) The War on Drugs, Prison Building, and Globalization: Catalysts for the Global Incarceration of Women MARYLEE REYNOLDS Abstract Although women still comprise a small percentage of the total prison population in countries in North America, Western Europe, and Latin America, their numbers have been rising in the past two decades. This article is a literature review of a new and dynamic field of scholarship that maintains that this increase is a byproduct of three interrelated fac- tors: the war on drugs, globalization, and prison building. First, using international pressure, the United States has imposed its federalized and militarized drug war on the governments of other nations. Second, the transfer of U.S.-led neoliberal economic policies, fueled by globalization, has marginalized poor women of color in modern and developing nations. As a result, many of these women have become involved in criminalized behaviors, including drug trafficking, as a means of economic survival. In this post-September 11 environment, transborder crossings are closely monitored, increasing the likelihood of arrest. Third, in an effort to con- tain surplus populations created by economic restructuring the United States has promoted a social policy of mass incarceration. The union of these three factors results in the greater likelihood of the arrest, detain- ment, prosecution, and imprisonment of poor women of color. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the experiences of women in global prisons and recommends strategies to curtail women’s imprisonment. Keywords: war on drugs / prison-industrial complex / globalization / women prisoners The United States incarcerates more women than any other nation in the world (Hartney 2006). A primary catalyst behind America’s imprison- ment binge is the war on drugs, the government’s initiative to stop drug production and use. This domestic war has expanded across the globe and its primary victims have been poor women of color. 1 U.S.-led neoliberal economic policies fueled by globalization have pushed many of these women into criminalized behaviors, such as drug trafficking, as a means of survival. At the same time, the United States has played the leading inter- national role in pressuring other countries to criminalize drugs, strengthen drug enforcement efforts, and to build prisons to warehouse convicted drug The War on Drugs, Prison Building, and Globalization 73 offenders. The result has been dramatic growth in the female prison popu- lation in the United States, Canada, Latin America, countries in Western Europe, and other locations where the United States is able to exert its influence (da Cunha 2005; Diaz-Cotto 2005; Joseph 2006; Kampfner 2005; Sudbury 2005b)....
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reynolds - ©2008 NWSA Journal Vol 20 No 2(Summer The War...

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