Stereotypes about black female criminality and irresponsibility legitimate the massive disruption that both systems inflict on black families and communities. A popular mythology promoted over centuries portrays black women as unfit to bear and raise children. The sexually licentious Jezebel, the family-demolishing Matriarch, the devious Welfare Queen, the depraved pregnant crack addict accompanied by her equally monstrous crack baby—all paint a picture of a dangerous motherhood that must be regulated and punished. Unmarried black women represent the ultimate irresponsible mothers—women who raises their children without the supervision of a man. These stereotypes do not simply percolate in some disembodied white psyche. They are reinforced and recreated by foster care and prison, which leave the impression that black women are naturally prone to commit crimes and abuse their children. Stereotypes of maternal irresponsibility created and enforced by the child welfare system’s disproportionate supervision of black children help to sustain mass incarceration, and stereotypes of black female criminality help to sustain foster care. As Angela Davis observes, the prison–industrial complex “relies on racialized assumptions of criminality—such as images of black welfare mothers reproducing criminal children—and on racist practices in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns.” The joint production of stereotypes in the child welfare and prison systems helps to explain why juvenile justice authorities send black delinquents to juvenile detention while referring white delinquents to informal alternatives for the same offenses. Many officials think that all black children come from female-headed households that are ill equipped to handle a troubled child simply because their mothers are not married. Because they perceive black single mothers as incapable of providing adequate supervision of their children, officials believe they are justified in placing these children under state control.