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Badass of the Week: Amber Wolf

Annie Bojanowski

Our badass of the week has come to light in a pretty unfortunate and bizarre way - through injustice by lack of pants.

Wolf has had enough of the crap.

In a courtroom in Louisville, KY, a pantless black woman walked into the court of judge Amber Wolf, who was understandably appalled. The defendant had been in the jail for three days, and according to Metro Correction’s spokesman, she was not held long enough to receive a jumpsuit.

Things got more disappointing as the woman told Wolf that she, along with other women in the jail, had also been denied pads, tampons, and showers.

“Am I in the Twilight Zone? What is happening?”

Retweet, girl, retweet.

Wolf was also disturbed by the recommended 75 day sentence for the defendant, who was in jail for failing to complete a diversion program following a shoplifting charge, her first ever offense. Shocked by this, Wolf immediately changed the woman’s sentence to time served and a $100 fine.

So why is Amber Wolf badass of the week?

Because it’s relieving to see an American judge react exactly how a human being should react - you know, with compassion - while calling out the cruelty of the situation. It also seems rare for defendants to receive punishment that accurately reflects the crime, like Wolf enacted here, seeing as it’s especially common for minorities to receive sentences disproportionate to the crime.

The unique position of power can define the relationship between the justice system and the citizens it serves; as we’ve seen lately, judges can singlehandedly perpetuate violence against women, allowing domestic abusers to continue their Silicon Valley jobs while “serving weekend jail.” As infuriating and vomit-inducing as these all too common instances are, some pieces of the intimidatingly gargantuan justice system are fighting for the rights of those they serve - New York City now provides free tampons and pads to all of its public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities, thanks to another badass, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

Although you would assume jails and prisons would guarantee a reasonable amount of feminine hygiene products, this is not the case. The incident in Kentucky (my home state, smh) exemplifies a phenomenon of degrading, humiliating attitudes towards women’s health in prisons across the nation.

While Orange is the New Black has brought well-deserved attention to the issues women in prisons face, the reality of a female judge telling a woman disrespected by her government “this is completely inhumane and unacceptable, I am sorry,” is a tiny crumb of the humble pie our justice system needs.