Facts About Mass Incarceration of Women

YTNKWhy it Matters: Facts about Mass Incarceration of Women

  • Over 200,000 women are behind bars and over 1 million are on probation or parole.[1]
  • The number of women in prison increased at nearly 1.5 times the rate of men (637% versus 419%) from 1980 to 2011. [2]
  • According to The Sentencing Project, the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for women is 1 in 56. However the likelihood increases to 1 in 19 for black women (the likelihood is 1 in 45 and 1 in 118 for Hispanic and white women, respectively).[3]
  • The number of prisons for women has multiplied eight times over the last three decades.[4]
  • More than 65% of women in state prisons report being parents of children under the age of 18. [5]
  • 64% of mothers in state prisons lived with their children before they were sent to prison compared to 47% of fathers. [6]
  • 1 in 25 women in state prisons and 1 in 33 in federal prisons are pregnant when admitted to prison.[7]
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of women in state prisons in 2004 had symptoms of a current mental health problem, compared to 55% of men.[8]
  • A number of states continue the barbaric practice of shackling an incarcerated women during pregnancy, labor and delivery.

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[1] American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
[2] The Sentencing Project
[3] Ibid.
[4] The Women’s Prison Association, Institute on Women and Criminal Justice
[5] Christompher J. Mumola, Incarcerated Parents and Their Children, Bureau of Justice Statistics (August 2000).  Updated Statistics provided by The Correctional Association of New York.
[6] Glaze, L., & Maruschak, L. (2008). Parents in prison and their minor children. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics
[7] Maruschak, L. (2008). Medical problems of prisoners. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
[8] James, D. & Glaze, L. (2006). Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics.