Voices of Justice Now: Is This Gender Responsive?

misty.png
Misty Rojo, age 32 and mother of four, believes, “you don’t pity imprisoned women; instead, you question your own knowledge and belief in the society that has failed them and the system that has victimized them.” Misty is a member of Justice Now’s Board of Directors.
When the Assignment Lieutenant wanted me to do vocational training in Cosmotology, I said “HELL NO!”. Why me? Because I’m a petite 115lbs female? I wasn’t a petite 115lbs female in danger from an abuser when the judge sentenced me to 12 years for a violent crime.
What I didn’t know then was how fun and therapeutic welding is for me; I plan to make a career of it. Unfortunately, in a women’s prison of 4,000 people, we have several vocational programs in cosmotology and office careers, while offering only one class in autobody, cabinetmaking or welding–vocations often referred to as “male oriented”. So for many women like me who enjoy getting dirty, the opportunity doesn’t arise. Even in Hobby Craft, we can knit to our hearts content (yuck), but can’t woodwork or leather tool.
So many of us reentering the community can file your nails or knit you some booties, but can’t get your car started or build your house.

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15 Comments

  1. LogrusZed
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    This sucks.
    I can only hope that Ms. Rojo does not let the fact that the prison won’t train her prevent her from learning on her own via books.
    Not only is it a potentially rewarding knowledge path in terms of finance, knowing how to work on your own car is gratifying personally and is one of those things that, particularly with women, can allow greater independence. Women also are more apt to be the victim of repair shop fraud because the people working there assume a lack of knowledge.
    Convict or not I think some working knowledge of auto mechanics is vital for women to have.
    And welding is cool because you can make art with it!

  2. noname
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    â€?I can only hope that Ms. Rojo does not let the fact that the prison won’t train her prevent her from learning on her own via books.â€? – LogrusZed
    It sounds like they did train her. She is just annoyed that they initially suggested something else. I wonder if she bothered to find out whether the number of auto body classes was proportional to actual demand for them, or limited by money and space considerations.

  3. ForbiddenComma
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what her victim(s) think about this.
    However much the prison system sucks, that doesn’t change the fact that people such as Misty Rojo are violent and hurt other people. There are better causes to rally behind, Samhita.

  4. Posted May 16, 2008 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    However much the prison system sucks, that doesn’t change the fact that people such as Misty Rojo are violent and hurt other people. There are better causes to rally behind, Samhita.
    First of all, it’s worth noting that much of the explosion in the female prison population in recent years is related to nonviolent drug offences.
    However, when discussing prison conditions, it’s a given (or at least it should be) that the people experiencing those conditions did something to justify putting them in prison in the first place.
    That doesn’t change the fact that prisoners have rights, which are often systematically violated, and have virtually no hope of legal redress for those violations thanks to the burdensome requirements imposed by the Prison Litigation “Reform” Act.

  5. Posted May 16, 2008 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    The other question this raises for me is: should we really be locking up women and forcing them to learn cosmotology?
    Doesn’t that seem like the apex of gender control?
    Putting women in cages and telling them they need to learn to do makeup and be secretaries is chilling news in my opinion.

  6. Glossolalia Black
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as a former juvie girl forced to go through Vocational Training that I hated, I regret to inform you that it’s spelled “cosmetology”.

  7. Bitty
    Posted May 16, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    ForbiddenComma, as far as I can find, Misty Rojo was battered for 10 years and eventually killed the man abusing her next door neighbor. Not exactly a candidate for sainthood, but it’s not like she was beating kittens to death with the bodies of baby seals.

  8. Medical Student29
    Posted May 17, 2008 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Let me get this straight. She killed some other abuser, not the same idiot who was beating on her?
    She needs serious jail time for that, unless you’ve got damn good evidence that she intervened to save the woman’s life. I need ER documents, 3rd party witnesses confirming it, x-rays showing a pattern of injuries, etc. The neighbor’s testimony by itself isnt good enough.

  9. Posted May 17, 2008 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    She needs serious jail time for that, unless you’ve got damn good evidence that she intervened to save the woman’s life. I need ER documents, 3rd party witnesses confirming it, x-rays showing a pattern of injuries, etc. The neighbor’s testimony by itself isnt good enough.
    The fact is that there are no third-party witnesses a lot of the time in cases of abuse, and that not all abuse victims seek medical attention (not to mention that medical personnel are not always conscientious or persistent enough to establish the kind of paper trail you’re talking about).
    I don’t know if any of that is true of this situation, but the standard you’re suggesting (substantially higher than the legal standard) would put women who defend themselves against abusers in even greater danger than they’re already in.

  10. Bitty
    Posted May 17, 2008 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “The neighbor’s testimony by itself isn’t good enough.”
    Why not? I mean, yeah, I think Rojo should have gotten jail time if it wasn’t intervening in an immediate,, life threatening situation (can’t find any information in detail) but as Elise said, what you propose is somewhat unreasonable to demand. I’ve pretty much never heard of a man hitting his partner in front of people not family, not all beatings are going to be severe enough to necessitate an ER trip, and even those that do may not get one, etc.
    The only reason not to believe the wife’s testimony is if there’s reason to believe that, I don’t know, Rojo was a hitwoman or something.

  11. sgzax
    Posted May 17, 2008 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Why are we arguing about whether Misty Roja deserves to be in jail when she is in jail? Problem solved, eh?
    The only debate is the eternal one over whether jail should be an opportunity for people to reformulate their lives or whether it should be an unending series of horrors and indignities. And since most of the people in jail are coming back out again eventually, I’d rather run into a future Misty Rojas with a useful and fulfilling skill that allows her to support herself than a future Misty Rojas further alienated and embittered by an inhumane ‘justice’ system.
    It seems to me that being denied my freedom would be punishment enough. Training people to come back into the world productively is just common sense.

  12. sgzax
    Posted May 17, 2008 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    ROJO… sorry, I got her name wrong.

  13. megan s.
    Posted May 17, 2008 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    That sucks too, because welding (and other so-called ‘male’ vocations ie. trades) are in high demand and the pay is much higher than traditional ‘female’ jobs like knitting (WTF?!) and cosmetology. Feminization of poverty, sup…

  14. werechick
    Posted May 17, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    If this is simply a matter of expensive equipment (which I could imagine being a big part of it), can’t men’s and women’s prisons share equipment, but, at, say, different times of the day? I don’t know what’s a standard day in their system, but it doesn’t seem outright impossible to place two eight hour (or however long) sessions on the schedule.
    And if there were men who were interested in becoming makeup artists, or whatever typically feminine activities the women’s prisons had, perhaps they could get a second shift, too?

  15. keshmeshi
    Posted May 19, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Unless Ms. Rojo is willing to extend the same theory to men, this statement
    “you don’t pity imprisoned women; instead, you question your own knowledge and belief in the society that has failed them and the system that has victimized them.”
    is unbelievably sexist. Are men the only ones capable of making bad decisions whether they’ve been victimized or not? Are only women victims of others or their circumstances? Are women incapable of making our own decisions and being held to account for them?
    If she’s one of those people who believes that no one is truly responsible for his or her actions, then great. I don’t agree, but I’m mature enough to agree to disagree. I do, however, take great exception if that benefit of the doubt only applies to women. It implies that women are weak and we are anything but that.

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