The Demographics of Incarcerated Women
Over the last few decades, women from all over the globe have made great strides towards equality. However, there is still work to be done. Sadly, there are millions of women who suffer disproportionally because of their sex.
Where is the Discrimination Happening?
The number of incarcerated women is nearly double the male population. While they maintain the majority of the population, women receive very little attention in criminal justice reform measures.
Women have gender-specific needs that differ from men. Women are disproportionately victimized by emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Therefore, their reform measures should take these things into consideration. However, they fail to do so. Women would benefit from counseling and rehabilitation for substance addiction. However, the criminal justice system insists on detaining these abused and emotionally unstable women for their nonviolent drug-related offenses.
In In-Depth Look at Incarcerated Women
Take a moment to let these facts and statistics sink in:
- In the last three decades, the number of incarcerated women has grown by more than 800%. There are more than 200,000 women currently in prison and over 1 million on probation.
- Two thirds of incarcerated women are in prison for nonviolent offenses, mostly drug-related charges.
- Women of color are incarcerated far more often than white women. African American women are three times more likely to be incarcerated. Hispanic women are 69% more likely to be behind bars than white women.
- 90% of women under the control of the justice system have been victims of domestic or sexual abuse.
- 80% of incarcerated women are addicted to drugs.
- 59% of runaways are girls and most were trying to escape a violent home situation. These girls don’t receive treatment or counseling; they are put in prison where they are much more likely to be sexually victimized.
- While the practice has been deemed inhumane, many pregnant prisoners are shackled to their beds during labor and delivery. Also, they are usually denied reproductive health services, pregnancy testing, prenatal care, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.
Things to Ponder
Crimes rates in the U.S. continue to decline. However, the number of imprisoned women convicted of nonviolent drug offenses has skyrocketed. As we consider issues of gender equality and criminal justice system expenses, we might analyze the treatment of women and the cost of large-scale abandonment of children caused by these women’s detainment.
What do you think of these statistics? Are you in favor of detaining nonviolent drug offenders? Do you think women and men should receive different reform options or be treated the same?
Come back on Wednesday, February 13 to meet Christina Wilkinson, whose drug addiction landed her in prison. She is now celebrating a drug-free year, and is openly and honestly speaking out about her experiences.
You can see the full month’s schedule here: Criminal Justice Blog Series
Thanks for reading.
Tags: Crime Statistics, Criminal Justice Facts, Criminal Justice Statistics, Facts About Women In Prison, Incarcerated Women, Incarcerated Women Statistics, Julie Clement, Understanding Criminal Justice, Women In Prison