1801 East Cotati Avenue
Sonoma County, California 94928

The largely invisible experience of the growing number of women in the nation's prison system who are mothers is the subject of an upcoming public awareness program at Sonoma State University.

"Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States" describes the lives of these women, most of whom are women of color, and how their children are impacted.

The program kicks off with the opening of an exhibit called "Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States" from March 26-April 28 in the University Library Art Gallery.

This dramatic exhibit of painting, drawings, sculpture and photography documents the experiences of incarcerated persons in the United States.

"Interrupted Life" seeks to educate about current realities and solutions to a major and growing problem in American society in which 70% of the women in prison are mothers, says Criminal Justice Professor Barbara Bloom who is coordinating the program.

It explores the issues related to motherhood, incarceration, policy and politics in the United States where the number of women incarcerated since 1980 has grown by 500%.

A keynote speech by Neil Bernstein, author of "All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated" will be presented from 6-8 p.m. on Weds., April 1, in Schulz 3001.

A panel discussion entitled "Invisible Punishments: The Collateral Effects of Incarceration" brings the mothers, children and allies of imprisoned women together for a discussion from 5-7 p.m. on Mon., April 6 in Schulz 3001.

The month-long program concludes at 7 p.m. on Fri., April 24 in the Cooperage with a dramatic performance of "Life Without Parole," a play based on Elizabeth Leonard's study of battered women survivors imprisoned for killing their abusers.

The number of incarcerated mothers has more than doubled from 29,500 in 1991 to 65,600 in 2007. In 2007,1.7 million children had a parent in prison.

"The increasing imprisonment of women means that more mothers are being incarcerated than ever before and more children are suffering the negative consequences," says Criminal Justice Professor Barbara Bloom.

Bloom is co-author of "Why Punish the Children? The Reappraisal of the Children of Incarcerated Mothers in America" and a national expert on women's issues in the criminal justice system.

Bloom served on the Governor's Rehabilitation Strike Team, working to address the state's crisis in prison overcrowding.Her work on gender-responsive strategies for women will no doubt be the foundation for all future work in this area, colleagues say.

Bloom reports that a significant number of women prisoners do not represent a threat to public safety." The vast majority (68%) are incarcerated for property or drug crimes rather than violent crimes.

Bloom also notes that "many women in prison have histories of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and trauma which are often contributing factors to substance abuse and addiction."

For further information, contact Barbara Bloom, Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies, (707) 664-3928.

Official Website: http://www.sonoma.edu/pubs/newsrelease/archives/003424.html

Added by ssunewscenter on April 2, 2009

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