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Friday, February 22, 2019


Professor Resnik Speaks to U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Women in Prison

Arthur Liman Professor of Law Judith Resnik was among the experts who spoke at a public briefing at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on February 22, 2019. Resnik, the founding director of The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law, submitted a statement to the briefing titled, “Women in Prison: Disparate Treatment, Disparate Impact, and the Duty of Care.”

READ: The Liman Center’s Statement to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

WATCH: Professor Judith Resnik at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Public Briefing

The Commission is in the process of evaluating the civil rights of women in prison, including deprivations of medical needs; implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act; and sufficiency of programs to prepare women for life after release.

According to the Commission, incarceration rates for women have increased dramatically since the 1970s — far outpacing those of men — and investigations have long shown that women in U.S. prisons suffer different experiences and deprivations than men — in a system not designed for them.

According to the Liman Center’s statement to the Commission, the number of women in state and federal prisons has increased dramatically during the past 40 years. “These women are underserved in prison, even as comparisons to men in prison are awkward, in that prison systems are not ‘good’ for anyone,” the Liman Center’s statement said. “Experiences are not binary; women and men of all colors, classes, and ages experience the problems of prison in different ways. Further, as media reports detail, transgender people face distinct and egregious harms when incarcerated.”

The Commission plans to hear from state and federal corrections officials, women who have experienced incarceration, academic and legal experts, and advocates and will issue a report based on the investigation.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, established by the Civil Rights Act of 1957, is the only independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the President and Congress on civil rights and reporting annually on federal civil rights enforcement.

Judith Resnik is the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where she teaches about federalism, procedure, courts, prisons, equality, and citizenship. Her scholarship focuses on the impact of democracy on government services, from courts and prisons to post offices, on the relationships of states to citizens and non-citizens, on the forms and norms of federalism, and on equality and gender.

The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law supports the work of Yale law students and Yale law school graduates through Liman Fellowships as well as undergraduate and graduate students from Yale College, Barnard College, Brown University, Bryn Mawr College, Harvard University, Princeton University, Spelman College, and Stanford University, all of whom work to respond to problems of inequality and to improve access to justice.