Review our most recent commentaries and analyses on women, drug policy, and incarceration below.

Women Deprived of Liberty in Latin America have not Benefitted from Government Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis

Seeking to contribute to efforts to find human rights-based solutions to the crisis prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of organizations from the region participated in a public hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on March 19, 2021 to express concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women deprived of liberty in Latin America.

March 19 2021

Written Statement for the 65th Session of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women

This joint contribution by the International Drug Policy Consortium, Penal Reform International and WOLA  highlights the increasing levels of women’s incarceration and condemns the punitive policies that result in the deprivation of liberty in the first place, recognizing that such processes prevent the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5. The statement presents recommendations to reduce women’s incarceration, and calls on governments to review drug and criminal justice policies to incorporate a gender perspective and develop alternative approaches that actively promote the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

January 26, 2021

Promoting the Rights of Trans Women Deprived of Liberty in Latin America

Latin America continues to face a profound crisis in its prison systems, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, trans women have faced a disproportionate impact on their human rights as compared to other groups in situations of vulnerability, due to their distinct lived experiences. This declaration by civil society organizations led by or working with trans people urges countries to reduce prison populations and provide alternatives to incarceration, particularly for trans women, and incorporate intersectional perspectives and a differentiated focus that protects the rights of LGBTI+ persons. 

December 16, 2020

Trans Women Behind Bars: Strategies for Resistance in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trans women deprived of liberty has been disproportionate in comparison with other groups, particularly because of the diverse intersectionalities affecting their lives. This piece explores strategies of resistance and policy recommendations discussed by trans women who have been in prison in the workshop “Trans Women Behind Bars: Strategies for Resistance in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

by Teresa García Castro, July 30, 2020

Statement at the 44th session of the Human Rights Council

This joint contribution by the International Drug Policy Consortium, Penal Reform International, the Washington Office on Latin America, and the Association for the Prevention of Torture was submitted to the 44th session of the Human Rights Council. The statement calls on the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms to pay greater attention to the harm and violations suffered by women who come into contact with criminal justice systems.

COVID-19: A Potential Death Sentence for Women Behind Bars in Latin America

As COVID-19 spreads to and within prisons, incarcerated individuals are facing grave and possibly deadly health concerns. The concerns are even more pressing for women, the vast majority of whom are imprisoned for low-level offenses and many of whom are in pretrial detention. This piece offers policy recommendations to reduce the region’s prison population in order to prevent a huge toll in illness and deaths.

by Coletta A. Youngers and Teresa García Castro, April 8, 2020

Submission to the Commission on the Status of Women

This joint contribution by CELS, IDPC, and WOLA was submitted to the sixty fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The paper demonstrates how current drug policies undermine key rights and commitments included in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action’s strategic objectives and offers concrete recommendations to address these damaging inconsistencies.

Formerly Incarcerated Women in the Americas Connect in First-Ever Regional Workshop

Formerly incarcerated women from eight countries across the Americas are taking steps towards building a regional network to share experiences and push for policy reforms, in the face of a concerning, regionwide increase in incarceration rates that are disproportionately impacting women.

by Teresa García Castro, Aug 22, 2019

Groundbreaking Regional Report Explores the Impact of Drug Policy on Children of Incarcerated Parents

The first-of-its-kind investigation focuses on a rarely-examined crossroads: the rights of children, drug policy, and incarceration.

by Teresa García Castro, May 15, 2019

Groundbreaking Report Highlights Dangers of Exporting Drug Courts to Latin America and the Caribbean

This analysis focuses on the impact and challenges of the use of drug courts in the Americas.

by Teresa García Castro, December 10, 2018

Women deprived of liberty: Joint submission to the OHCHR Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women

The OHCHR Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice launched a call for contributions for their upcoming report on ‘Women deprived of liberty’. This joint contribution by IDPC, WOLA, CELS, Dejusticia and Equis focuses on the disproportionate impacts of overly punitive drug policies on women in Latin America. This paper provides the latest available data on women incarcerated for drug offenses in Latin America, highlights the key human rights challenges they face in the criminal justice system, and offers policy recommendations.

Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights’ Report on UNGASS Implementation and Human Rights

This submission was prepared by WOLA, EQUIS: Justicia para las Mujeres (Mexico), IDPC and Dejusticia (Colombia) on behalf of a working group on women, drug policy and incarceration in Latin America, led by the organizations listed above and in collaboration with the OAS Inter-American Commission on Women.