The Common Good
September/October 2006

Who's In Your Jail?

by James Ferguson | September/October 2006

In May, the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice released a report on the growth of the number of women in prison in the U.S.

In May, the Institute on Women and Criminal Justice released a report on the growth of the number of women in prison in the U.S. The study reveals that African-American women—who comprise 12 percent of the U.S. female population—now make up more than 50 percent of women in prison. “African Americans are eight times more likely to be incarcerated in the U.S.,” report co-author Judith Greene told Sojourners. “For low-income African-American women, issues of gender and economic disparity are greatly exacerbated by the problem of racial disparity in the criminal justice system.” Other findings:

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  • 96,125: The number of women serving state or federal prison sentences at the end of 2004, almost nine times the number in 1977.
  • 33: The percentage of women in state prisons in 2002 who were jailed for violent offenses, a decrease from 49 percent in 1979.
  • 13: The percentage increase in arrests of women between 1995 and 2004, while the number of women incarcerated rose by 53 percent.
  • 129: The number of women imprisoned out of every 100,000 female residents in Oklahoma in 2004.
  • 11: The number of women imprisoned out of every 100,000 female residents in Massachusetts in 2004.

Source: “The Punitiveness Report-HARD HIT: The Growth in Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004” (2006).

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