Incarcerated Women and Girls Increases 700 Percent
The number of incarcerated women and girls has increased 700 percent since 1980. A report published this spring by the D.C. based criminal justice organization, The Sentencing Project, attributes the alarming statistic to a variety of factors including tightened drug laws and post-conviction barriers to reentry into society.
According to the report, women are more likely than men to be incarcerated for drug or property offenses, with 25 percent of women versus only 14 percent of male prisoners being convicted of a drug offense and 27 percent of women versus 17 percent of male prisoners being convicted of a property crime.
The imprisonment of black women has been on the decline since 2000, while the rate of imprisonment for Hispanic and white women continues to rise. In general, the number of female incarceration is growing at nearly twice the rate than that of male incarceration.
When it comes to the incarceration of young girls, ages 12 to 17, they make up about 15 percent of those placed in juvenile detention centers. The report states that girls of color, Native American, African American, and Hispanic, are more likely to be incarcerated than white girls. About 50 percent of all teen incarceration for running away from home are girls, while 38 percent of girls make up those incarcerated for truancy and curfew violations.
For more on this report, click here.
The Realist Woman’s take:
These statistics are pretty disturbing. This report states that many women are incarcerated due to drug offenses. If this country decided to rehabilitate women, instead of throwing them in jail, they would be able to contribute their skills and talents to our society. Our government does nothing to help them. They go to jail, suffer inhumane conditions while in there, are given ridiculous sentences, and if and when they are lucky to be released, they come out into a world where they are limited in finding a job that will hire them. Most importantly, being incarcerated for having legitimate drug problems, robs these women of the precious time they could be spending with their families. The report pointed out that more than 60 percent of women in state prisons are mothers with children under the age of 18.
Another issue for incarcerated women and girls is their socioeconomic status. A lack of resources is one of the reasons why women remain imprisoned. In 2016, the ACLU released a report which found that 60 percent of incarcerated women couldn’t afford bail, thus keeping them imprisoned. Many women and men have to sit in jail and wait around for trial. Not only is this a waste of money to taxpayers, but it threatens their livelihoods when they miss out on work.
Parents of incarcerated youth are also figuratively held hostage because they can’t afford their kids’ juvenile detention fees. It’s wrong. Cash bail and juvenile fees need to go. But of course, there is money to be made when we imprison people. That’s why bail bond companies are fighting laws trying to abolish the cash bail system. Profit is always the priority over people’s lives in this world. What this country needs is prison reform and juvenile justice reform. If we have to have juvenile detention centers, they should exist as an opportunity for our youth to receive compassionate counseling and mental health evaluations, with the goal of releasing kids who become healthier versions of themselves. Helping the parents of those formally detained to understand their child’s issues should be another priority in combating recidivism.
Lastly, we need to hold certain corporations and politicians accountable for profiting off of these inhumane systems.