Reality Check

  • The vast majority of women arrested in South Carolina have been African American. Of the 41 women arrested under the Medical University of South Carolina's policy, 41 were African American, and the sole white woman had a black boyfriend. (Robert Wood Johnson report, 1998)
  • A Florida study of women seeking obstetrical services at public health clinics and private physicians' offices that were anonymously tested for drug use found that African-American women were 10 times more likely to be reported for positive drug screens while pregnant than white women. (Robert Wood Johnson Report, 1998)
  • Black women's rate of imprisonment is more than eight times that of white women, and Hispanics is more than four times that of white women. (Amnesty International report, 1999)
  • About 200,000 children under the age of 18 in the United States have a mother in jail. (Amnesty International report, 1999)
  • A study sponsored by the Association of Southern Governors concerning the availability of substance abuse treatment for pregnant women in Southern states found that newspaper reports in the 1980s sensationalized the use of crack and created a picture of the "typical" female addict: young, poor, black, urban, on welfare, the mother of many children and addicted to crack.

In interviewing nearly 200 women for the study, a very different picture of the "typical" chemically dependent woman emerges. She is most likely white, divorced or never married, age 31, a high school graduate, on public assistance, the mother of two or three children, and addicted to alcohol and one other drug. (Southern Regional Project on Infant Mortality, 1993)

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