Between 1980 and 2016, the number of women incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons increased by more than 700 percent. Roughly 17 years ago, Linda Argila became one of them. She was sentenced to a year and a day in Danbury Federal Correctional Facility for harboring a fugitive. At six months pregnant, young and in love, she discovered that the father of her unborn child was one of the biggest marijuana smugglers in the country. Because he was never captured, she faced a decade of federal interrogations, and was eventually torn from her 9-year-old daughter.
Linda witnessed firsthand the way incarceration rips at the hearts of children and families, as well as the physical and mental injustices that women—the majority of them nonviolent, first-time offenders—face in prison. Today, she is an advocate for prison reform, proposing alternatives for nonviolent offenders, as well as new standards of dignity and respect for those behind bars.