MORE WOMEN’S PRISONS AND ORPHANAGES
By Richard Davis
July 1, 2042- Twenty years after Roe v. Wade was overturned the Unites States is in the midst of a boom in the construction of women’s prisons as well as a revival of the warehousing of young children in orphanages.
Although the Supreme Court, as well as a majority of states, outlawed abortion women have continued to have the procedure done despite the legal consequences. When the law first changed there was a surge in abortions throughout the U.S. because the mechanisms for punishing those who defied the law were not well established.
As states changed their abortion laws and developed procedures for punishing women who had abortions, as well as those who provided the service, law enforcement agencies began to arrest women, nurses and doctors in numbers that were unanticipated. Thirty five states also passed laws that made it illegal for women to go to a state where abortion is legal if they live in a state banning abortion. The Supreme Court upheld states’ rights to punish women crossing state lines for abortions.
As a result, courts became overwhelmed with abortion cases and found it difficult to manage prosecution. There were so many cases pending trials that judges were forced to require thousands of women and doctors to be confined at home while wearing ankle bracelets.
In many instances those accused spent three or more years waiting for their day in court.
In 2022, the year Roe v. Wade was overturned, four percent of the U.S. prison population was women, 58% of whom were mothers.
Those prisoners totaled 231,000 with 99,000 in state prisons, 16,000 in federal prisons and 101,000 in local jails.
In 2042 women now make up 10% of the U.S. prison population and five percent of that number are women who defied abortion laws. In 2022 two million women were imprisoned every year. That number has doubled and does not include women awaiting trial for abortion-related crimes.
The private prison industry has proliferated in the past 20 years in states such as Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Those states are building new women’s prisons at a rate of two new facilities every year. Texas and Mississippi have established separate prisons for women who have defied abortion laws.
Prior to 2022 there were no orphanages in the U.S. Those institutions were deemed cruel and outmoded and were replaced with group homes, shelters, residency homes and foster homes. But as the number of children born to women and families who could not support them skyrocketed the Republican controlled congress cut funding for programs to continue to support orphan children outside of institutional settings.
In 2030 congress provided funding for private businesses to build large facilities that they called Children Safe Havens. The new industry has grown quickly and almost every state has at least one of these facilities. Many have capacities of 500 or more.
A recent independent inspection of Children Safe Havens around the country found that conditions did not meet standards of humane and safe living conditions. While the owners of these facilities are reaping in millions of dollars in government contracts they are not paying employees a living wage and most facilities are understaffed. Children living in these facilities are dying at a rate of 10% a year as they wait to age out of the system at 18. Runaways are rarely pursued and enforcement of child abuses laws is lax.
A number of advocacy groups have petitioned the Supreme Court to outlaw Children Safe Havens on the basis of cruel and unusual punishment but there is little hope the court will side with those groups.
Supreme Court composition has not changed in 20 years and retirement of the older justices does not seem likely in the near future.