Articles on Women, Drug policy, and Incarceration

Insight Crime highlights the challenges to reduce Bolivia Female Prison Population

Based on a report by Kathryn Ledebur (AIN) and Coletta Youngers (WOLA), an Insight Crime article emphasizes the need to promote broader judicial reform efforts in Bolivia to continue progress in reducing the incarceration of women for drug offenses.

Article Highlights the Stories of Incarcerated Women in Costa Rica
An article by the Christian Science Monitor details the life of Sandra, a Costa Rican woman who has been a part of the drug trade since age 14 when she fled home to escape abuse. Sandra has been in and out of prison her entire life. The article cites the project on women, drug policy, and incarceration, and quotes one of the project directors Coletta Youngers.

Project Cited for International Women’s Day
In a blog on women and the war on drugs, the authors discuss the challenges faced by women who are involved in the war on drugs. The article discusses the series of photo essays that portray the stories of women incarcerated in Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, and Bolivia and quotes working group member, Coletta Youngers.

Conference on Women and Drug Policy
At an international conference on women and drug policy, working group members presented on advocacy efforts at the UN on the topic of women and drug policy and participated in the making of a short video. Both the presentation and the video are intended to be used as tools that can advance policy reforms on the topic of women and drug policy. Click here to watch the video and click here to review the presentation on advocacy at the UN.

Article on Women Drug Couriers Cites Guide
In an article published by Anfibia, a publication of the University of San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Guide is cited in a discussion regarding the reasons why women in Latin America become drug couriers and the high rates of incarceration they often face after their arrest.

Insight Crime article highlights the Guide and Innovative Approaches Series
In an article on women, drug policy and incarceration Insight Crime cites the Guide and the Series of Innovative Approaches, in addition to highlighting various programs from the Innovative Approaches Series that policy makers should consider as best practices when confronting the topic of women, drug policy and incarceration.

Argentinian video series on women, drug policy, and incarceration
Working group members Coletta Youngers and Luciana Pol are interviewed by Argentinian press in a video series on women, drug policy, and incarceration in Argentina. Click here to watch the videos.

Video panel on violence and the drug war
In a video panel discussion on violence and the drug war, working group member Lisa Sánchez and international colleagues discuss the role of the drug trade in violence in Latin America and how women fit into the discussion of the drug war and incarceration. Click here to watch the video.

CNN writes article about women, drug policy, and incarceration
The Guide was cited many times in an article written about the raising percentage of women incarcerated for drug offenses across the Americas

Across Asia, we need to give the women incarcerated by the ‘war on drugs’ a voice
Elevating the voices of women harmed by repressive drug policies is key to advocating for reform across Asia, writes Nischa Pieris in openDemocracy.

As women are sent to prison, men continue the drug business
VICE News cites the Guide and explores the gender dimensions of Colombia’s drug markets.

The Guardian: We won’t solve the world’s drug problem by locking up Latin American women
Some say imprisoning people for drug crimes acts as a deterrent, protects society and educates criminals. But for socio-economically excluded women, it doesn’t work like that, explains Equis in a Guardian Op-Ed.

Women are bearing the brunt of our most punitive drug policies
From Colombia to Thailand, drug policy reforms are urgently needed to end the mass incarceration of women for drug offences. Here’s what we can do about it.

El Telegrafo analyzes the situation in Ecuador
The Guayaquil newspaper El Telegrafo uses the guide to explore how drug policies affect women in Ecuador, and how policies can adopt a gender perspective.

In VICE, Dejusticia illustrates how prison affects women in Colombia
Dejusticia tells the story of Angela to explain how incarceration harms women in Colombia.

Separating discourse from reality in Latin America’s drug policy rhetoric
Citing newly released data, Coletta Youngers and Catalina Pérez highlight where reform fails to be matched by changes on the ground.

Women from Oaxaca, Mexico, denounce irregularities in their judicial process
In an analysis in Animal Político, Equis: Justicia para las Mujeres identify cases of arbitrary detention and other issues in processes involving women in southern Mexico.

Argentina’s Pagina12 newspaper interviews Coletta Youngers
In an interview with Pagina12, a major Argentine news outlet, WOLA’s Coletta Youngers outlines the effect of the “war on drugs” on women in the Americas.

Portraits from Prison Tell Stories of Women in the Drug War
In a new analysis, Mary Miller Flowers of the Open Society Foundations highlights the photo essay and the effects of incarceration on women in the Americas.

The impact of drug laws on women in Ecuador
Maria Cristina Meneses Sotomayor analyzes the situation of incarcerated women in Ecuador, and how recent legislation and sentencing adjustments have contributed to their plight.

Semana Magazine: The “War on Drugs” has been primarily a war on poor women and families
Writing for Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, working group member Sergio Chaparro (Dejusticia) identifies the ways in which current drug policies target women and other vulnerable populations.

Using employment to promote reintegration curb recidivism
As many as 70 million people in the United States have criminal records which can limit their abilities to secure employment–even if the offenses they were convicted for were non-violent. In a memo for Latin American audiences, Working Group member Adam Schaffer outlines new reforms to promote reintegration of people with criminal records through “Ban the Box” reforms.

Office of the Ombudsperson of Costa Rica promotes second chances for incarcerated women
In an article by the Costa Rican Judicial Observatory, Zhuyem Molina explains a new initiative to create more proportional punishments for women who introduce drugs into prisons, offering them an alternative to long-term imprisonment.

Photo essay and project featured in Truthout
On June 11, the project and photo essay were featured on the independent news website “Truthout”.

Project contributes to media coverage of women and incarceration in Mexico
In an article published by El Daily Post (originally via Animal Político), data and commentary from working group members contribute to a story on women, drug policies and incarceration in Mexico.

Mexican TV station Milenio interviews Corina Giacomello on women, drug policies and incarceration.
In a widely-viewed segment with Carlos Puig of Milenio, Giacomello discussed the project and the issue in Mexico and the region (Spanish only).

Women in the international drug policy debate
Writing for Voices of the Phoenix, working group member Corina Giacomello outlines how inequality, impunity, and gender asymmetries affect women in Latin America.


Reports on Women, Drug Policies and Incarceration

Equis: Justice for Women outlines legislative reforms to protect Mexican women incarcerated on drug charges
In a report, Equis: Justice for women presents a series of legislation-ready recommendations to incorporate a gender perspective in drug policies.

The exceptional situation of women incarcerated for drug-related offenses
report by Articulación Feminista highlights how deprivation of liberty for drug offenses affects women in Colombia, Mexico, and Chile.

The Incarceration of Women for Drug Offenses
A report from the Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (CEDD) offers a regional analysis of female prison populations.

The Invisible Victims of Latin America’s Incarceration Crisis
According to a report from Church World Service, the negative impacts of incarceration extend to children of imprisoned parents.

Women and Drugs in the Americas: A Policy Working Paper
This OAS report compiles analysis of different approaches to women and drug policy in the region.

Women, drug offenses and penitentiary systems in Latin America
In this seminal 2013 paper, Working Group member Corina Giacomello outlines the effects drug laws and penitentiary systems have on women in Latin America.


Advocating for the Rights of Women Incarcerated for Drugs

Submission to the 62nd Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs
The paper, Implementation of the UNGASS Outcome Document to Promote Gender-Sensitive Drug Policies, provides input into the proceedings of the 62nd Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on several topics including women who use drugs and human rights, women and criminal justice, and the “human face” of female incarceration. It calls for alternatives to criminalization and incarceration, and makes policy recommendations to comply with the gender-related components of the UNGASS Outcome Document. The document was submitted by WOLA and was co-sponsored by IDPC, EQUIS: Justicia para las Mujeres, and Dejusticia. Click here to read the full submission.

Side event at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on the impact of drug policies on women 
At the 61st Session of the CND working group members sponsored and participated in a side event on the impact of drug policies on women. The event focused on the challenges pregnant women who use drugs face and the over incarceration of women for drug offenses. Click here to read the CND blog post on the event.

Statement to the Human Rights Council at the 36th Regular Session
In a statement to the Human Rights Council during the 36th Regular Session, Corporación Humanas – Chile, Corporación Humanas – Colombia, the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) called on the Council to promote gender-sensitive drug policies, and explained the situations of vulnerability many women are in when they enter the drug trade. Click here to read the full statement.

26th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ)
At a side event hosted by IDPC at the 26th Session of the CCPCJ various programs highlighted in the Innovative Approaches were mentioned as positive drug policy and criminal justice reforms.

2017 Meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs
At the 2017 meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs various members of the working group organized a side event titled “Implementing CND Resolution 59/5: Best Practices in Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Drug Policy”. Ambassador Alicia Buenrostro, Permanent Representative of Mexico, spoke at the event, recommending various reforms that would allow for a gender prospective to be incorporated into drug policy. Click here to read a blog post on the event.

Working Group Submits document on women, drug policy, and incarceration to United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
The working group put together a briefing submission for the upcoming OHCHR report on human rights and the administration of justice. Click here to read the submission.

Guide and Photo Essays Form the Basis for Article on Women, Drug Policy, and Incarceration in Latin America

An article in El País cites the Guide, various photo essays, and an interview with Nischa Pieris, a working group member. The article details the reality of women, drug policy, and incarceration in Latin America. Click here to read the article.

Working Group cited in article and infographic on women and incarceration
The working group was cited in an article presenting a new infographic on the high rates of incarceration for women charged with drug crimes. Click here to read the article and see the infographic.

Guide presented to Uruguayan Government Officials
Working group member Coletta Youngers presented the guide to dozens of Uruguayan officials in Montevideo, focusing on the negative impacts that incarceration has on women who are low level drug offenders. To read two articles on the presentation, click here and here.

Guide presented at international drug policy conference
Working group members mentioned the guide in their panel presentations at Conferencia Drogas, an international drug policy conference. The conference hosted about 500 attendees from all over the Americas.

The guide is presented to public defenders in the Dominican Republic
The working group presented the guide and spoke with public defenders from all over the Dominican Republic. Their presentation stressed the importance of taking into account the situation of women in the penal system. Click here to read notes from the meeting.

Working group member Corina Giocomello discussed the Mexican government’s involvement in the topic of women, drug policy, and incarceration
Working group member Corina Giocomello discusses why the Mexican government should be dedicating time and resources to reforming drug and incarceration policies, particularly with regard to women, in a short video produced by Equis: Justicia para las Mujeres. Click here to view the video.

Oral statement to Human Rights Council on the disproportionate effects of the drug war on women
Working Group members made a joint oral statement on the disproportionate effects of the drug war on women, which has resulted in high incarceration rates and levels of violence, at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council. Click here to read the transcript of the statement.

Guide Presented to Public Officials and Civil Society Members in Ecuador
In an event organized by the Defensoría Pública of Ecuador and FES, a German foundation, Coletta Youngers discussed the negative effects of incarceration on women throughout the Americas. She presented a reform-minded policy guide on women, drug policy, and incarceration, in addition to examining alternatives to incarceration and ways to bring about sentencing reform.

Presentation of the guide at the CIM Assembly of Delegates
Nischa Pieris presented the guide and photo essays at the Inter-American Commission on Women Assembly of Delegates in Lima, Peru to member states and civil society organizations.

Guide presented at CND Side Event
At a side event event hosted at the meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the guide and photo essays were presented by a panel of working group members.

Working Group presents Guide at the OAS
In an event at the Organization of American States (OAS), the working group presented their new guide for policymakers and highlighted the human face of female incarceration in the Americas.

WOLA & OSF host workshop on the mass incarceration of women in the Americas
In an effort to connect Latin American and U.S. activists on this issue, WOLA & OSF convened a workshop to identify common trends and advocacy strategies.

Advocating for reforms at the Organization of American States
Speaking before the Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States, Coletta Youngers presented a statement on the effects of drug policies and incarceration on women in the Americas.

Project presented before major UN drug policy body
At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, working group member Marie Nougier (IDPC) presented on the women and incarceration project. The testimony was a major achievement because despite being the leading drug policy arm of the United Nations, the CND has long insulated itself from the growing rejection of punitive drug policies throughout the world.

United Nations Crime Congress: Addressing the causes, consequences of the over-incarceration of women for drug-related offenses
At the 2015 United Nations Crime Congress in Doha, IDPC presented on the situation of women incarcerated on drug crimes, offering important insights into this oft-overlooked issue to an international audience. To see what they presented, click here.

Project contributes to the 2015 Women and Justice conference
Working Group member Corina Giacomello offered a gendered-focused analysis of women and incarceration, and how the drug trade and drug laws affect women in particular, at the 2015 Conference on Women, Prison, and Gender-Based Violence

Project presented before major UN drug policy body
At the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, working group member Marie Nougier (IDPC) presented on the women and incarceration project. The testimony was a major achievement because despite being the leading drug policy arm of the United Nations, the CND has long insulated itself from the growing rejection of punitive drug policies throughout the world.