According to the Department of Public Safety of Oaxaca, one of the poorest States in Mexico, women account for 6% of the prison population in the Country. If the women’s prison is not available in the jurisdiction in which they were indicted, women are sent to the female area of one of the 14 State prisons.
What is highlighted in a statement released by the Mexican Comunicación and Información de la Mujer AC (CIMAC) is that they are mainly poor women and single mothers with children under the age of five, an age when it is necessary give up custody and to entrust them to a relative or guardian. The inmates must handle their children by themselves, because they do not receive assistance from the prison authorities, or adequate food for children. Some are arrested for drug dealing, others for murder. Out of 234 prisoners in the prison of Oaxaca, 29 are indigenous, mostly Zapotec originally from the southern mountain range, but there are also women from Mixe, Triqui and other indigenous peoples. Because of the overcrowding of prisons, many find themselves sharing a cell with convicted prisoners and pregnant women, who are transferred to the civil hospital in the city as soon as they begin to have contractions.
Keeping children with their mothers in jail means exposing them to daily discomfort. Most of these women were driven to crime by the tragic economic situation. Poverty does not leave many choices: go hungry or join drug dealing.
Agenzia Fides states: Mexico needs to address the problem of extreme poverty, otherwise people will continue to migrate to the north and the United States and will be easy prey for drug cartels.