On the campaign trail this week, Hillary Clinton penned an opinion piece outlining her plans for addressing the experiences of women in prison, and Donald Trump lashed out with what many are calling a “sexist” attack on Clinton.
Clinton Calls for “Gender-Responsive” Prison Policies
Clinton published an opinion piece for CNN Wednesday on the costs of prison for women, calling for prison reforms that address the unique experiences women in the system face.
“Mass incarceration has torn families apart, impoverished communities, and kept too many Americans from living up to their God-given potential. But mass incarceration’s impact on women and their families has been particularly acute—and it doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” wrote Clinton. “We can’t go on like this. It is time we reform our broken criminal justice system.”
The Democratic presidential candidate went on to outline a series of reforms meant to address the experiences women face when it comes to imprisonment.
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“First, we need to reform policing practices, end racial profiling, and eradicate racial disparities in sentencing,” suggested Clinton. “Second, we need to promote alternatives to incarceration, particularly for nonviolent and first-time offenders, so families aren’t broken up. We need to improve access to high-quality treatment for substance abuse, inside and outside the prison system, because drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a crime-and we need to treat it as such.”
The op-ed went on to call for “gender-responsive” policies for women in prison, noting that “we need to be deliberate about understanding the different paths that can land women in prison, be more attentive to women’s unique needs while they are incarcerated, and do more to support women and their families once they are released.”
Clinton vowed to implement such policies on a federal level, and to encourage states to do the same in their prisons and jails.
Ending mass incarceration has been a key component of Clinton’s platform on the campaign trail since she pitched criminal justice reforms in April 2015, though some have questioned the sincerity of those promises. Many criminal justice reform advocates point out the role the 1994 crime bill, put in place during the Bill Clinton administration, played in exacerbating mass incarceration. Clinton’s op-ed did not address that bill.
Trump Says Clinton Is Playing the “Woman’s Card”
Trump spent much of the week accusing Clinton of playing the “woman’s card” in order to get ahead in the presidential race, generating serious backlash for what critics say is “sexist” rhetoric.
“If Hillary Clinton was a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote,” Trump said in a Tuesday night victory speech celebrating his primary wins, according to the New York Daily News. “The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card.”
Clinton fired back on Tuesday during her own speech celebrating her primary victories, saying, “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”
Trump was at it again by Thursday, doubling down on his statement during an interview with NBC’s Today, saying, “She’s playing that card like I’ve never seen anyone play it before.” The Republican presidential candidate went on to claim, “All I’m doing is bringing out the obvious, that without the woman’s card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to even run for a city council position.”
Critics blasted Trump’s rhetoric as “brutally sexist,” sparking backlash against the candidate on social media. As ABC News reported, “Trump’s remarks prompted social media hashtags like #dealmein and #womancard, the latter ranking among the top 10 global trending topics on Twitter Wednesday, with more than 45,000 tweets by late afternoon.”
What Else We’re Reading
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), who lost a tight race for retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-MD) seat to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in Tuesday’s primary, called out Maryland voters for failing to vote for women and people of color in a state that views itself as progressive.
The Nation‘s Joan Walsh asks: “Why Donna Edwards Lost-and Why It Matters for the Future of the Democratic Party.”
Speaking during an MSNBC town hall on Monday, Clinton told the audience that she is “a feminist because I believe that women deserve the same rights as men in every aspect of our economy and our society, here at home and around the world.”
About 58 percent of Clinton’s advertising dollars—three out of every five dollars spent—are going to ads that reference “women’s rights, gender equality or equal pay,” reports Adweek. Candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) ads largely don’t address abortion, but about 33 percent of them do discuss equal pay.
Vermont became the fourth state to pass automatic voter registration on Wednesday. The new law will automatically register eligible voters who go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a driver’s license, and could add up to 50,000 new voters to the state’s rolls in the next four years.
A federal judge upheld North Carolina’s voter identification law.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) restored voting rights to more than 200,000 people in the state who were previously convicted of a felony, noting that provisions banning them from voting disproportionately disenfranchise people of color. “There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans—we should remedy it,” McAuliffe said in an interview on the matter last Thursday according to the New York Times. “We should do it as soon as we possibly can.”
Trump called Virginia’s move to restore voting rights “crooked politics,” claiming that the move was politically motivated in order to get more Democratic votes. “That’s how disgusting and dishonest our political system is,” claimed the Republican presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic‘s Matt Ford explored the “racist roots” of Virginia’s law, saying McAuliffe’s action “marks an exorcism for one of Jim Crow’s last vestiges in Virginia’s state charter—and a reminder of how many of its legal aftereffects still linger today.”