The Race, Gender and Human Rights Fund promotes human rights as well as racial and gender justice
by challenging the criminal justice system and its use of mass incarceration in California.
“The mass incarceration of people of color is a modern day extension of slavery and the Jim Crow era. Just like we needed the abolition and the civil rights movements to combat slavery and Jim Crow, we now need a movement to combat the mass incarceration of people of color.”
~RGHR Member, Deborah Drysdale quoting author Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
While the United States is home to only 4% of the world’s female population, our nation accounts for over 30% of the world’s incarcerated women. With 219K women imprisoned across state and federal prisons, local jails, immigrant detention centers, and youth facilities, the U.S. has among the highest rates of incarceration of women in the world. Since the 1980s, the rate of female incarceration has exploded by 800%. This is a result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women.
Women that enter the US criminal and legal system often come from backgrounds that include high rates of poverty, sexual and/or physical abuse, mental health and addiction issues, and trauma – all of which could be addressed outside of the criminal/legal system. Instead of fostering healing, providing treatment, and addressing women’s basic needs, incarceration perpetuates further trauma and causes disruption at both the individual and family levels, particularly for low income, communities of color. Moreover, we have a system that is highly racialized as Black women continue to be incarcerated at 2X the rate of white women. Additionally, almost 1 out of every 2 Black transgender women report having been incarcerated. Latinx and Native women are also disproportionately incarcerated across the US. Simply said, girls of color are significantly more likely to be incarcerated than white girls.
California leads the nation in locking up women and spending billions on incarceration rather than on what women really need to heal and thrive: services, treatment, health care, jobs, housing, support, etc. Of the thousands of women incarcerated in our state, two-thirds are imprisoned for nonviolent, non-serious offenses that are poverty, property-theft, or drug-related.
The collateral consequences of female incarceration are significant. More than 80% of incarcerated women serve as the primary caretakers of their children, which leads to the disruption and insecurity of families and is especially detrimental to children. For example, there is a direct correlation between the incarceration of women and the rates of children being cared for by other relatives or placed in the foster care system. And in some cases, women who have been incarcerated are at risk for losing their parental rights entirely.
Additionally, as members of communities that face extraordinarily high rates of poverty, violence, criminalization and incarceration, women of color are also disproportionately impacted by the criminal/legal system when family members are incarcerated. One in four women in the US have an incarcerated loved one, causing psychological distress and trauma along with financial and social hardships.
Despite mass incarceration’s devastating impact on women and families, the many organizations and communities that are working to change the criminal and legal system remain significantly under-funded by U.S. philanthropy. The Race, Gender, and Human Rights Fund is seeking to change that. We invite you to join us.
WHAT WE DO
Since its inception in 2002, the Race, Gender, and Human Rights Fund (RGHR Fund), comprised of a group of committed donors, has invested over $5 million to support criminal justice reform in California. The RGHR Fund focuses primarily on the system’s impact on women and families, prioritizes the leadership of formerly incarcerated people and strategically invests in efforts that build the criminal justice reform movement.
RGHR supports the criminal justice field through strategic grantmaking, convenings, donor education and partnerships to advance systemic change in California and foster greater collective impact. In 2017, the RGHR Fund established a new home at East Bay Community Foundation, where it remains deeply committed to working strategically with its grantees and partners to advance justice and foster collective impact.
The RGHR Fund co-founded the California Criminal Justice Funders Group, an active network and learning community of funders and donors working on criminal justice issues in our state.
RGHR is a visionary, philanthopric group, that is unafraid to invest in cutting-edge efforts that challenge the criminal justice system and reverse mass incarceration. RGHR supports strategic efforts seeking to:
- Advance key policy reforms
- Decrease the number of incarcerated people
- Eliminate the disproportionate confinement of people of color
- Challenge inhuman conditions of confinement
- Elevate the leadership of women in the criminal justice movement
- Foster justice reinvestment to meet the needs of communities
- Support successful re-entry and reduce recidivism
- Build leadership of formerly incarcerated people
- Grow the criminal justice reform movement
- Increase philanthropic awareness and giving on criminal justice issues
MAKE AN IMPACT. JOIN US TODAY!
Fund members meet regularly to strategize, engage in collective learning and make funding decisions. Meetings feature expert speakers and discussions about some of the most challenging issues of our time. Members participate in site visits with grant partners, visit detention facilities, and attend RGHR events.
Excited to learn more and contribute to this movement for change? Another way to support this strategic work is to invest in the fund. Become a donor of the RGHR Fund and events and receive semiannual updates.
To learn more about the fund or to explore membership opportunities, please contact the RGHR Fund’s Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Anuja Mendiratta, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2018-2020 GRANT PARTNERS
The RGHR Fund is proud to partner with and support the following organizations in their quest for justice and strategic reform in California.
RESOURCES: LEARN MORE ABOUT WOMEN + CRIMINAL JUSTICE
- A New Way of Life Re-entry Project: Case Study – Jorja Leap & Associates
- Because She’s Powerful: The Political Isolation and Resistance of Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones – Essie Justice Group
- Breaking the Silence: Civil and Human Rights Violations Resulting from Medical Neglect and Abuse of Women of Color in Los Angeles County Jails– Dignity and Power Now
- Overlooked: Women and Jails in the Era of Reform– The Vera Institute for Justice
- Bias Behind Bars: Decreasing Disproportionate Rates of Incarcerated Women in California and Nationwide for Low-Level Offenses– The Women’s Foundation of California
- Who Pays?: The True Cost of Incarceration on Families – Ella Baker Center, et al.
- Women and Injustice: Gender and the Pathways to Jail in NYC – The New York Women’s Foundation
- The Crisis of Criminalization: A Call for a Comprehensive Philanthropic Response – Andrea Ritchie
- Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color – Andrea Ritchie
- Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018 – Prison Policy Initiative
Other Reports + Articles on Women and the Criminal Justice System: www.prisonpolicy.org/research/women