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Us Nccd Fact Sheet Most Punitive States Women 2007

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July 2007

FACT SHEET
Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

The Nation’s Most Punitive States
for Women
Christopher Hartney

Rates, as opposed to
prison and jail population numbers, allow for
comparisons across time
and across states with
different total populations.
In this Fact Sheet, except
where noted, rates were
calculated by dividing the
custody or supervision
population by the number
of females in the general
population and multiplying by 100,000.

The imprisonment of women across the United States has repercussions in every aspect of society, including the huge costs of incarceration at the local and state levels,
the splitting of communities and families, the tragic disruption at crucial developmental stages in the lives of thousands of children, and the unchecked deterioration
of the physical and mental health of women in prison.
While the U.S. as a whole leads the world in its punitive response to crime for women
as well as men, it is important to consider variations among the states.
This Fact Sheet reports the latest state and national data available for women and
girls involved in local and state corrections systems across the nation. Rates per
100,000 females in the general population are reported to compare and contrast each
state’s response to crime. Raw numbers are also reported when available. The information presented here will be useful in discussions about underlying causes of crime,
justice policy, and correctional practice.

July 2007

2

Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

Rates of Women Held in State Prison or Local Jails,
June 30, 2005*

Women Held in State Prison or
Local Jails
Based on 2005 rates of incarceration in state prison or
jail, the most punitive U.S. states for women were Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Idaho, Georgia, and Wyoming.
The states with the lowest rates of incarceration were
Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Hampshire.
Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Louisiana
Louisiana
Texas
Texas
Idaho
Idaho
Georgia
Georgia
Wyoming
Wyoming

Rate
of
Rate of
Women
in
Incarcerated
Custody
Women

Hampshire
NewNew
Hampshire
Minnesota
Minnesota
Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Vermont
Vermont
Maine
Maine
RhodeIsland
Island
Rhode

0

50

100

150

200

250

Illinois and New York each have relatively high numbers
of incarcerated women yet have some of the lowest
rates of incarceration.

*Figures may include prisoners under the jurisdiction of the federal
prison system but held in state prisons or local jails. The Federal
Bureau of Prisons had under its jurisdiction 12,422 women in 2005
at a rate of 8 women per 100,000 in the U.S. population.
**District of Columbia figures include only jail inmates. State prisoners in the District of Columbia are held in the federal system.
Source: Harrison & Beck (November, 2006).

Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51

State
Oklahoma
Louisiana
Texas
Idaho
Georgia
Wyoming
Kentucky
Nevada
Arizona
Mississippi
Colorado
New Mexico
Alabama
South Dakota
Florida
Tennessee
District of Columbia**
Virginia
Alaska
South Carolina
Arkansas
Missouri
Montana
Delaware
Utah
Indiana
California
Kansas
Hawaii
Wisconsin
North Carolina
Ohio
Washington
Oregon
Nebraska
Pennsylvania
Maryland
North Dakota
Michigan
Connecticut
West Virginia
Iowa
Illinois
New Jersey
New York
New Hampshire
Minnesota
Massachusetts
Vermont
Maine
Rhode Island

ALL STATES

Inmates

Rate

3,750
4,535
21,344
1,321
8,438
464
3,673
2,047
5,081
2,528
3,849
1,599
3,769
612
14,094
4,613
422
5,530
453
2,997
1,921
3,953
603
552
1,563
4,005
21,601
1,610
700
3,000
4,596
6,042
3,168
1,844
830
5,877
2,545
278
4,365
1,541
784
1,248
5,109
3,111
5,618
371
1,334
1,496
141
295
212

209
195
186
185
184
184
173
173
171
168
166
163
161
157
155
151
145
144
141
137
136
133
129
128
127
126
119
117
109
107
104
103
101
101
93
92
88
87
85
85
84
83
79
70
57
56
52
45
45
44
38

181,435

121

July 2007

Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

Rates of Women Held in State Prison or Local Jails,
June 30, 2005

181+
151-180
121-150
91-120
61-90
30-60
per 100,00 women

Source: Harrison & Beck (May, 2006).

Corrections Expenditures, 2004
In the year 2004, the states with the highest per capita expenditures on corrections per person in the general population were the District of Columbia ($295), Alaska ($271), California ($265), Wyoming ($260), and New York ($248). The
states with the lowest per capita expenditures were North Dakota ($93), New Hampshire ($100), South Dakota ($105),
Iowa ($110), and West Virginia ($118).
California had by far the greatest total annual corrections expenditures of any U.S. state at $5.6 billion, followed by
Texas ($3 billion; $180 per capita), New York ($2.6 billion), Florida ($2.2 billion; $204 per capita), and Michigan ($1.6
billion; $207 per capita). The total across all states was $39.3 billion ($192 per capita).
(Hughes, 2006.)

3

July 2007

Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

Almost one-third of all female prisoners in the
U.S. were held in three states.

The U.S. incarcerates more women than any
other country.

In 2005, California held 21,601 women in prison and
jail, Texas 21,344, and Florida 14,094. The states with
the next largest female incarcerated population were
Georgia (8,438), Ohio (6,042), Pennsylvania (5,877), and
New York (5,618).

The U.S. incarcerates the most women of any nation—183,400 in 2005. The U.S. rate of incarceration of
women per 100,000 in the population is 123 (including
federal prisons), compared to 88 in Thailand, 73 in Russia, 17 in England and Wales, and 3 in India. When one
compares the number of incarcerated women in individual states to the number of incarcerated women in the
nations of the world, Texas ranks 4th and California 7th.

The states with the smallest female incarcerated population were Vermont (141), Rhode Island (212), North
Dakota (278), and Maine (295). (Harrison & Beck, May,
2006.)

4

(See Walmsley, 2006, and Hartney, 2006.)

The number of female prisoners is rising in
proportion to male prisoners.
Arrest Rates Do Not Explain Differences in Custody Rates.
The fact that each state arrests* different numbers of
women does not explain differences in incarceration
rates. If it did, the number of women in custody per 1,000
women arrested would be approximately the same for
every state. In fact, that rate ranges from 23 in Rhode Island and in Maine, 33 in Minnesota, and 35 in Nebraska
to 89 in Texas, 93 in Ohio, and 109 in Georgia. Differences in punitiveness are more likely explained by the laws,
policies, and practices—and the beliefs and attitudes of
elected officials and the public—influencing each state’s
response to crime.
*Arrests are used here as a proxy for crime; reported offenses cannot
be distinguished by gender.
(Estimates use 2004 arrest data from FBI, 2006, and FBI, 2005; incarceration data is from Harrison & Beck, May, 2006).

Women are sentenced for fewer violent
offenses and more drug offenses than men.
Across the U.S. in 2005, of the women serving sentences of more than a year, 35% had a violent offense
as their most serious offense, 30% a property offense,
29% a drug offense and 6% a public order or other
offense. Men had 53% violent offenses, 20% property
offenses, 19% drug offenses, and 8% public order or
other offenses. (Harrison & Beck, November, 2006.)

Women made up 6.1% of the total imprisoned population in 1995 and 7.0% in 2005.
Between 1995 and 2005, the number of women in
prison increased an average of 4.6% per year, while the
number of men in prison increased annually by 3% in
the same period. The states with the greatest average
annual increase in imprisoned women since 1995 were
North Dakota (18.2%), Montana (14.1%), West Virginia
(14.0%), Maine (13.6%), Utah (13.5%), and Vermont
(13.2%). The only state with a decrease in that period
was New York (-2.5%). (Harrison & Beck, November,
2006.)

Incarcerating women often separates children
from their primary caregiver.
An estimated 1.6 million children have mothers under
some form of correctional supervision including 294,000
children whose mothers are incarcerated in state prison
or local jail. More children have fathers incarcerated
than mothers. However, unlike imprisoned fathers, most
mothers are the primary caregivers for their children
and will return to their homes after imprisonment, so the
mother’s incarceration usually has a more significant
impact on the life of the child.
(Mumola, 2000; Glaze & Bonzcar, 2006; and Harrison & Beck, May,
2006.)

July 2007

Probation
Rate

State

Parole
Rate

Montana
Minnesota
Texas
Delaware
Georgia
Massachusetts
Indiana
Rhode Island
New Jersey
Vermont
Connecticut
Pennsylvania
Hawaii
Arkansas
North Carolina
Colorado
Florida
Oregon
Nebraska
Michigan
Illinois
Ohio
Wyoming
District of Columbia
Idaho
Arizona
Maryland
Missouri
Wisconsin
California
Kentucky
Washington
Iowa
Oklahoma
Louisiana
New Mexico
Alaska
Mississippi
Tennessee
South Dakota
South Carolina
North Dakota
Alabama
Kansas
Virginia
New York
Utah
Maine
Nevada
West Virginia
New Hampshire

1225
1016
953
917
857
852
810
722
669
650
647
618
614
598
591
579
556
543
539
518
515
512
507
490
474
471
470
454
447
445
422
407
404
393
391
384
372
365
364
361*
349
335
332
270
258
222
220
198
191
181
151

Pennsylvania
Oregon
Arkansas
District of Columbia
South Dakota
Louisiana
Texas
Missouri
California
Vermont
Illinois
Wisconsin
Georgia
Colorado
Idaho
Kentucky
Hawaii
Washington
New Mexico
Oklahoma
Wyoming
Iowa
Maryland
New York
Tennessee
Michigan
Nevada
Utah
Alabama
Arizona
Montana
Kansas
West Virginia
Virginia
New Jersey
Indiana
New Hampshire
Ohio
Alaska
Mississippi
North Dakota
South Carolina
Minnesota
Connecticut
Delaware
Massachusetts
Nebraska
Rhode Island
North Carolina
Florida
Maine

219
148
140
131
110
103
93
84
66
60
59
56
54
50
49
46
45
44
43
43
42
39
39
37
36
35
35
35
34
29
29
27
27
25
24
23
23
23
21
21
21
16
12
10
10
10
10
5
4
3
0

ALL STATES

512

ALL STATES

52

State

5

Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

Rates of Adult Women on
Probation and Parole, 2005

Women on Probation and
Parole
The states with the highest rates of women on probation in 2005 were Montana (1,225), Minnesota (1,016),
Texas (953), Delaware (917), and Georgia (857). The
states with the lowest rates of women on probation
were New Hampshire (151), West Virginia (181),
Nevada (191), Maine (198), Utah (220), and New York
(222).
The states with the highest rates of women on parole
were Pennsylvania (219), Oregon (148), Arkansas
(140), District of Columbia (131), and South Dakota
(110). The states with lowest rates of women on
parole were Maine (0—Maine stopped using parole in
1975), Florida (3), North Carolina (4), Rhode Island
(5), and several states with 10. (Glaze & Bonzcar,
2006.)

Montana
Montana
Minnesota
Minnesota
Texas
Texas
Delaware
Delaware
Georgia
Georgia

Rate of Women
on Probation

New
York
New
York
Utah
Utah
Maine
Maine
Nevada
Nevada
Virginia
WestWest
Virginia
Hampshire
ew New
Hampshire

0

500

1000

1500

*Only total (male and female combined) figures were available for California, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, South Dakota and West Virginia. The female
parole or probation population was estimated for those states based on the female percentage of total arrests (FBI, 2006).

Source: Glaze & Bonzcar, 2006.

July 2007

Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51

Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

State†
Wyoming
South Dakota
Nebraska
Indiana
North Dakota
Florida
Nevada
Alabama
District of Columbia
Iowa
Utah
Louisiana*
Arizona
South Carolina
Kansas*
California
Idaho
West Virginia
Montana
Oklahoma
Michigan*
New York**
Virginia
Delaware
Alaska
Ohio
Oregon
Minnesota
Arkansas
Georgia
Texas
Pennsylvania
Colorado
Wisconsin*
Connecticut**
New Mexico
Washington
Mississippi
Missouri**
Kentucky
Hawaii
Tennessee
New Hampshire*
North Carolina**
Massachusetts*
Rhode Island
Illinois*
Maine
New Jersey
Maryland
Vermont

ALL STATES

Count

Rate

141
129
216
714
63
1527
189
357
30
207
189
300
339
243
159
2139
84
87
48
180
525
903
342
36
36
522
153
222
114
369
972
483
177
216
132
72
213
102
192
126
33
156
36
219
150
24
300
24
162
96
6

497
289
220
201
186
172
152
144
132
131
125
113
105
105
103
102
102
97
94
93
90
88
85
83
82
82
79
77
76
74
73
72
70
70
69
63
62
60
60
58
51
50
48
48
45
43
42
34
34
30
18

14,454

88

Except where noted, upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction is 17.
*Upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction is 16.
**Upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction is 15.

6

Number and Rates of Juvenile Girls in Custody
October 22, 2003

Juvenile Girls in Custody
Based on 2003 rates of custody (detained or committed) per
100,000 females under 18 years of age in the general population, the most punitive U.S. states for girls were Wyoming
(497), South Dakota (289), Nebraska (220), Indiana (201),
North Dakota (186), and Florida (172). The least punitive
states were Vermont (18), Maryland (30), New Jersey (34),
Maine (34), Illinois (42), and Rhode Island.
The proportion of girls to boys in custody has been rising,
with girls representing 13% of all juveniles in custody in
1991 and 15% in 2003.
The number of girls under 18 years of age held as adults
in state prisons fell from 175 in 2000 to 91 in 2005, a 48%
decrease. The number of boys under 18 also fell in that time
period, from 3,721 to 2,175 or 42%.
Girls are in custody for different offenses than boys.
Although proportions vary by state, across the U.S., 87% of
girls in custody were there for delinquency offenses (30%
person, 21% property, 7% drug, 8% public order) versus
96% of boys (35% person, 29% property, 8% drug, 10%
public order).
Girls in custody in 2003 were much more likely to be status
offenders than boys, with 13% of girls versus 4% of boys in
custody for status offenses.
Similarly, 20% of girls versus 14% of boys were in custody
for a technical violation of probation.
Delinquency offenses are those for which an adult could be
prosecuted while status offenses are those specific to juveniles such as truancy, curfew violations, running away from
home, or alcohol possession or use.

†

Source: Snyder & Sickmund, 2006.

July 2007

Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

1392

Montana

Total Control Rates in Local and State
Corrections: Imprisoned or Jailed,
Probation, Parole, and Juvenile Custody*

1240

Texas
Texas
Georgia

1103

Minnesota

1088

7

1063

Delaw
are
Delaware
981

Indiana
937

Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania

Total Control

912

Massachusetts
Massachusetts

882

Arkansas
Arkansas
Colorado
Colorado

804

Oregon

800

Wyoming

789

Dist.
of Col.
District of
Columbia

777

Haw
aii
Hawaii

774

Rhode Island

770

New
New Jersey
Jersey

766

Vermont
Vermont

756

Connecticut
Connecticut

750

The states with the highest total rate of
involvement in the corrections system (total
control), including women and girls both
incarcerated and under supervision**, are not
always the same states with the highest rate
of incarceration, since states rely in varying
degrees on probation and parole as a response
to criminal activity. Montana, Texas, Georgia, Minnesota, and Delaware were the states
with highest rates of total control, while New
Hampshire, Maine, West Virginia, New York,
and Utah had the lowest.

Prison or Jail
Probation
Parole
Juvenile Detention

731

Florida
Idaho

720

North Carolina

705

Louisiana

701

Arizona
Arizona

683

Missouri

677

Nebraska

666

South Dakota

661

Illinois
Illinois

657

Oklahoma

655

Michigan

648

Kentucky
Kentucky

647

Ohio

646

Minority women are disproportionately
incarcerated.

642

California

In 2005, the national rate of women sentenced (per 100,000 in the general population) was 88 for Whites, 144 for Hispanics,
and 347 for African Americans.

618

Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Maryland

600

New
New Mexico

598

Mississippi

561

Washington
Washington

558

Tennessee
Tennessee

557

Alaska
Alaska

546

Alabama

542

(Harrison & Beck, May, 2006.)

539

Iow
a
Iowa
513

South Carolina

463

North Dakota

*For purposes of calculating the total control rate, juvenile
custody rates represented in this table were based on each
state’s total female population, not the total juvenile female
population.

436

Virginia
Virginia

424

Kansas
Kansas
Nevada

415

Utah

398
325

New
New York
York

**Figures for juvenile girls under supervision were not available, so total control rates are underestimated.

302

West
West Virginia
Maine

245

New
New Hampshire

235
715

ALL
ALL STATES
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

1400

1600

Sources: Harrison & Beck (May, 2006), Glaze & Bonzcar
(2006), Sickmund, Sladky, & Kang (2005).

July 2007

Research from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency

8

Summary
The women in U.S. jails and prisons are chronically overlooked. Their histories, their needs, and the impact of
their imprisonment are largely invisible to U.S. society. However, their numbers, at almost 200,000, are significant
and growing, as are the numbers of children’s lives affected by how we treat women offenders.
This Fact Sheet sheds some light on the dilemma of women prisoners in each of the 50 states and points to discrepancies among state policies and practices. Much of what to do about women prisoners is outlined in the excellent, groundbreaking work on gender-responsive treatment for women by Drs. Barbara Bloom, Barbara Owen,
and Stephanie Covington (Bloom, Owen, & Covington, 2003).

References
Bloom, B., Owen, B., & Covington, S. (2003). Gender-responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders. Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections. Accessed June 8, 2007, at http://www.nicic.org/pubs/2003/018017.pdf.
FBI (2006). Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data: Arrests by Age, Sex, and Race, 2004 [Computer file]. (ICPSR04460-v2.) Washington, DC: United States
Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Author analysis of FBI data distributed by: Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for
Political and Social Research accessed May 17, 2007 at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/.)
FBI (2005). Crime in the United States, 2004: Uniform Crime Reports. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation,
2005. Accessed May 30, 2007 at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_04/.
Glaze, L.E., & Bonzcar, T.P. (November, 2006). Probation and Parole in the United States. (NCJ 215091.) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office
of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Additional gender-specific figures provided to NCCD by the authors December 12, 2006. Accessed May
8, 2007, at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/ppus05.htm.
Harrison, P.M., & Beck, A.J. (May, 2006). Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2005. (NCJ 213133.) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Additional gender-specific figures provided to NCCD by the authors April 24, 2007. Accessed May 7, 2007,
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/pjim05.htm.
Harrison, P.M., & Beck, A.J. (November, 2006). Prisoners in 2005. (NCJ 215092.) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,
Bureau of Justice Statistics. Accessed May 7, 2007 at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/p05.htm.
Hartney, C. (2006). U.S. Rates of Incarceration: A Global Perspective. Oakland, CA: National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Accessed May 10, 2007 at
http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/n_pubs_main.html.
Hughes, K. (November, 2006). Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts 2004. (NCJ 215648.) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of
Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Accessed May 7, 2007 at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/eande.htm.
Mumola, C.J. (August, 2000). Incarcerated Parents and their Children. (NCJ 182335.) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs,
Bureau of Justice Statistics. Accessed May 8, 2007 at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/iptc.htm.
Sickmund, M., Sladky, T.J., & Kang, W. (2005) Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement Databook. Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice. Accessed May 8, 2007 at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/cjrp/.
Snyder, H.N., & Sickmund, M. (2006). Juvenile offenders and victims: 2006 national report. (NCJ 212906.) Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Last accessed May 7, 2007 at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/index.html.
U.S. Census Bureau (2006). State Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics with 5 Race Groups (5 Race Alone or in Combination Groups): April 1,
2000 to July 1, 2005. Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau. Last accessed May 8, 2007 at http://www.census.gov/popest/datasets.html.
Walmsley, R. (2006). World Female Imprisonment List. London, King’s College London, School of Law, International Centre for Prison Studies. Last accessed
May 8, 2007 at http://www.prisonstudies.org.

 

 

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