On Saturday night rapper JT shared a reflective Twitter thread about what she learned while in prison.
JT, whose real name is Jatavia Shakara Johnson, is one half of the electric female hip hop duo, the City Girls and was recently released from prison after serving more than a year for fraudulent credit card charges.
While she acclimates to life in an Atlanta halfway house as part of her probation terms, the Miami native tweeted a fair exchange of knowledge and advice to her loyal followers.
“I was locked up w/ so many women who were in prison because they kept it real w/men & those men did not keep it real with them! I want y’all to know that whatever you do DONT let a man influence you in the moment of ‘love’ if he love you he wouldn’t put you in situations.” Capping it with the group’s signature, “PERIOD.”
“& it’s not called being stupid, it’s called being influenced In a state of vulnerability! We taking these n—s money & putting our self first from here on out!” she continued.
And while JT’s words may be offensive or off-putting to some, there’s a load of truth about her observation, regarding the population of women in jail.
According to a 2017 report from The Vera Institute of Justice, women continue to make up the rising jail population, “increasing 14-fold between 1970 and 2014.” The number of women in jail grew from under 8,000 in 1979 to nearly 110,000 in 2014. And the most disadvantaged of women, Black (makes up 44 percent) and Latinx (make up 15 percent), make up the biggest majority of the female jail population.
The vast majority of women in jail are there for non-violent offenses, or because they served as a co-participator in a minor offense. A major part of the report which explains why women are sentenced in this matter is explained below.
“When women face more complex charges, such as those involving other defendants, their typically peripheral roles put them at a decided disadvantage. For example, if their alleged participation was minor, trivial, impromptu, or uninformed—such as a carrier or small-scale seller of drugs in a drug conspiracy case—they have less leverage to negotiate a favorable plea deal because they have little information about others’ crimes or contacts to trade for a lesser sentence. While some women are co-equal or independent actors in criminal activity, even women with minimal or no involvement or knowledge have been increasingly swept into the justice system as the result of the wide application of certain charges, such as conspiracy and accomplice liability. Complicit law, for example, recognizes no difference between “major” or “minor” accomplices, and accomplices, if found guilty, are not held to a separate, lesser offense of “aiding and abetting,” but are treated like the principal actor in terms of guilt and punishment. As a result, women and other lower-level participants can face the same sentences as their more significantly involved counterparts, for instance, by simply taking a phone message or allowing a partner or family member to keep items at their home,” the report states.
The majority of women in jail happen to be mothers and many are suffering from traumatic experiences including sexual violence, physical violence, mental illness and addiction. Economically, many women are unable to avoid bail and have to serve time leading up to and after their due process, if found guilty.
JT’s reflections serve as a painful reminder of the justice system, trauma life experiences, and the cost of loving men who are committed to doing the opposite.