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Womens Prison Association 2006 Report

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Foreword
Over the past three decades, as the United States has experienced explosive prison
growth, women have been hard hit. Although women have the dubious distinction of
being the fastest growing segment of the prison population, scant attention has been
paid to their involvement in the criminal justice system. Indeed, even most official
sources of criminal justice data do not distinguish between men and women in their
analyses, leaving it only to speculation on whether there are any distinctions
between the two groups that make a difference.
HARD HIT: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977 - 2004 is the
first study of its kind, analyzing the striking growth in the numbers of women in
prison, state-by-state over nearly three decades. The report provides context to the
alarming growth trends and reviews what is understood about the phenomena by
researchers who study women in the criminal justice system.
Anchored by the research of Dr. Natasha A. Frost and accompanied by the analysis
of Justice Strategies, HARD HIT is the first in a series of reports to be put out by the
Institute on Women & Criminal Justice that will examine the states' treatment of
women in the criminal justice system. The aim of these reports is to shed light on
the phenomenon of punitiveness - its pervasiveness, its roots, its consequences, and
possible responses.
The Women's Prison Association is the nation's oldest and largest service
organization working with women in the criminal justice system. WPA's work has a
dual focus on direct services and systems change. WPA operates a full range of
program services to address women's need for livelihood, housing, family, health and
well-being, and criminal justice compliance. WPA's newest division, the Institute on
Women & Criminal Justice, is a national center for dialogue, research, and
information about criminal justice-involved women, their families and communities.
By fostering a national conversation on women and criminal justice, the Institute
seeks to create breakthroughs in the ways in which our public systems address the
issue of women and crime, and to promote innovative solutions and highlight what
works.
Key Findings
HARD HIT: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977 - 2004 points to some
alarming trends in our nation's incarceration of women. These findings raise crucial
questions for further study.
•

Across the board, the growth has been dramatic. In 1977, the U.S.
imprisoned 11,212 women; by 2004, that number had ballooned to 96,125, a
757% increase. In 1977, the United States imprisoned 10 women per
100,000 female residents; in 2004, the rate had grown to 64 per 100,000.

•

Tremendous state and regional variances exist. While imprisonment
rates have soared from coast to coast, there is a remarkable level of variation
among states and regions. For example, in 2004, Oklahoma imprisoned 129
of every 100,000 female residents. In contrast, that same year,
Massachusetts and Rhode Island imprisoned 11 women per 100,000 female

residents. Unless we are to believe that Oklahoma women are more than 10
times more "criminal" than their Massachusetts and Rhode Island
counterparts, we have to assume that criminal justice policy and practice are
pivotal. From a regional perspective, the Mountain and Southern states stand
out as particularly punitive in the imprisonment of women. In fact, the South
has historically incarcerated women and men at relatively high rates. In
contrast, the Mountain states are showing a growth rate for women that is
startling both in its size and in comparison to men.
•

At the beginning of this century, interesting shifts occur. The last five
years covered by this report (1999 - 2004) reflect a period in which our
reliance on incarceration was being reconsidered. Many states engaged in
sentencing reform and in creating treatment and other alternatives to
imprisonment. During this time, some states continued to increase the
numbers of women they imprisoned (Florida's prison population, for instance,
increased by 1,840 women or 48%), and other states made modest increases
(like Alabama's growth of 3%). Significantly, nine states actually experienced
a decrease in their female population during this five-year period. Among
them are some of the states with the largest prison populations: New York
was down by 831 or 23% and New Jersey was down by 392 women or 21%.

•

Women, families, and communities are devastated by imprisonment.
As discussed in Justice Strategies' review of the recent research, millions of
women and families in this country have been affected by our nation's heavy
reliance on incarceration. The U.S. disproportionately imprisons women of
color with few economic resources and many familial responsibilities. This has
compounded the hardship experienced in already impoverished communities.

The Need for More Research—and Action
Women are a small portion of the prison population - roughly 7% nationally, in 2004.
So, why should we care? Of course, imprisonment is not "worse" for women than it is
for men. However, the incarceration of women creates some different effects that
have historically been largely unaddressed in conversations focusing primarily on
men.
The cycling of women through the criminal justice system has a destabilizing effect
not only on the women's immediate families, but on the social networks of their
communities. They are, more often than not, primary caretakers of young children
and other family members.
From the taxpayer's perspective, the price of incarcerating women is not limited to
the cost of the prison cell and three meals a day. Locking up women also means
paying the tab for putting their children in foster care, treating health and mental
health conditions that have worsened during incarceration, and providing public
assistance and shelter for women those who are homeless and destitute upon
release. For most women who are sent to prison, the more economical and humane
response of providing community-based substance abuse and mental health
treatment, coupled with increased economic and social supports, would produce a
better result. WPA has long maintained that criminal justice and social policy that
better served women would also produce better outcomes for men.

If, as HARD HIT suggests, women are especially sensitive to shifting trends in
imprisonment, we should be looking to the patterns of their involvement in the
criminal justice system for clues to improving the system overall. The causes of the
trends revealed in this report are not self-evident and warrant additional inquiry. In
our next report in the Punitiveness series, the Institute on Women & Criminal Justice
will go deeper in to the reasons for the growth in female imprisonment, again stateby-state, examining how offense type, risk of imprisonment, and length of stay in
prison contribute to the increase.
We hope that this report will contribute to an evolving national conversation about
women, communities, and justice.
Ann Jacobs, Institute Director
Sarah From, Deputy Director
May 2006

Part I: Growth Trends and Recent Research
by Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis, Justice Strategies

Introduction
The Institute on Women and Criminal Justice of the Women’s Prison Association is
releasing the first volume of The Punitiveness Report, a national study by Dr.
Natasha Frost, assistant professor at Northeastern University College of Criminal
Justice. Her report presents the first state-by-state compendium of data charting
the dramatic increase in the incarceration of women over the past 27 years in the
United States. A second volume will look more deeply at factors that increased the
risk of imprisonment for women arrested for felony offenses and increased the
amount of time spent behind bars.
While women comprise just a small segment of all the people serving prison terms in
the U.S., their number is rising at a far faster rate than that of men. Incarceration of
women has profound impacts on the families and communities left behind. Dr.
Frost’s findings should spark a national dialogue about how women are affected by
incarceration. Her findings should also motivate policymakers to examine the trends
and prospects for reform in their states.
Growth Trends and Recent Research Findings is presented as a companion to Dr.
Frost’s exhaustive study. It provides a brief overview of recent research that
provides context for her findings regarding the increased incarceration of women,
and discusses the multitude of problems incarceration presents for women and their
children. This report also takes a closer look at growth patterns, regional trends,
and how states rank on various measures of female imprisonment.
Over the final quarter of the 20th century, U.S. criminal justice policies underwent a
period of intense politicization and harsh transformation. Draconian sentencing laws
and get-tough correctional policies led to an unprecedented increase in jail and
prison populations, driving the United States’ rate of incarceration head and
shoulders above that of other developed nations.
The imprisonment boom that began in the late 1970s has swelled the state and
federal prison system to more than 1.4 million prisoners. Adding those held in local
jails and other lockups (juvenile facilities, immigrant detention, etc.) the total
number of people behind bars rises to almost 2.3 million—of which seven percent are
women. [1] At the end of 2004, 96,125 women were serving state or federal prison
sentences—almost nine times the number in prison in 1977. [2]

National prison population growth trends
Female state prison population growth has far outpaced male growth in the past
quarter-century. The number of women serving sentences of more than a year grew
by 757 percent between 1977 and 2004—nearly twice the 388 percent increase in
the male prison population. Although the size of the gap varies, female prison
populations have risen more quickly than male populations in all 50 states. The

trend has also been persistent, with median annual growth rates for women
exceeding growth rates for men in 22 of the last 27 years, including each of the past
11 years. [3]
In part, this is due to the small number of women who were incarcerated at the
beginning of the boom relative to the number of men, so that increases show up as
larger proportional growth against smaller base figures.
Women’s higher growth rate is also due to an increase in the number of women
arrested. For example, between 1995 and 2004, arrests of women were up 13
percent while the number of women behind prison bars rose by 53 percent. Female
imprisonment rates jumped 36 percent over the same period, compared to an
increase of 17 percent for men. Women’s share of the prison population rose from
6.3 percent to 7.2 percent.
While the number of women prisoners has soared, the proportion of women
convicted of violent offenses has declined since 1979, when they comprised 49
percent of the women in the state prison system. [4] One-third of the women
serving state prison sentences in 2002 were incarcerated for violent offenses,
compared to more than half of the men. Drug offenses now account for nearly onethird of women (up from one in 10 in 1979), compared with just one-fifth of men.

Male prison populations catch cold while women get
pneumonia
The rise of the female state prison population has been constant but uneven over the
past quarter-century, punctuated by growth spurts in the early and late 1980s and
mid-1990s. Median annual growth rates fell after 1995 and have remained in the
single digits since then. Nonetheless, many states continue to see significant
population growth, including nine where numbers shot up by over 10 percent in
2004.
The pattern of growth in female prison populations generally tracks changes in male
prison populations, which also underwent periods of rapid expansion in the early and
late 1980s. But women have been hit much harder, experiencing growth spikes that
reached higher, lasted longer and often began earlier than those affecting men.
For example, while the growth rate for male prisoners shot up a little more than
twofold between 1980 and 1981, from 5.4 percent to 14 percent, the growth rate for
female prisoners increased four-fold, from 3.8 percent to 17 percent. The following
year, the male growth rate fell below 12 percent while the female growth rate kept
climbing to more than 18 percent.
An even more remarkable growth spurt took place between 1987 and 1990. Both
the men’s and women’s prison populations began and ended the four-year period
with annual growth rates hovering around seven to eight percent. In between,
however, annual growth in the women’s prison population hit record levels, topping
25 percent, compared to a peak rate of less than 14 percent for males. To
paraphrase the old saying, when the male prison population caught cold, women
came down with pneumonia.

-!-

Median annual change in state prison populations: 1980 to 2004

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The gap between male and female prison population growth rates has widened
recently, producing an annual rate of increase for women that roughly doubled the
rate for men in six of the last seven years. The number of women added to the state
prison populations each year remains high despite lower growth rates. In fact, the
expansion that has taken place since 1999 (11,689 new female prisoners) exceeds
the total female state prison population in 1980 (11,113 women).

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Regional prison population growth trends
National trends play a significant role in patterns of state prison population
expansion, as evidenced by the simultaneous growth spurts that took place at the
beginning and end of the 1980s. Three in five states saw female prison population
growth rates reach a 25-year high-water mark in 1981 (six states), 1982 (six states)
or 1989 (14 states). The latter year was an extraordinarily punitive one for women:
43 states saw population increases in the double digits while half saw their numbers
jump by more than 25 percent. But growth in women’s prison populations also varies
by geographic region. [5]
The Northeast: Turning the corner on female prison population growth?
Northeastern states logged extraordinarily rapid growth during the 1980s followed by
below-average growth during the 1990s. [6] The region saw record growth in 1989
when most states saw their female prison population jump by more than a third.
Between 1999 and 2004, however, the total number of women housed in
Northeastern state prisons fell by 11 percent (976 prisoners), driven by prison
population declines in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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The Pacific states: From boom to bust and back
Pacific states also saw unusually high rates of growth during the 1980s, including
nine years with median growth rates in the double-digits. [7] The pattern in the
years that followed has been erratic. The region’s female prison population actually
fell slightly in 1991 but resumed its climb the following year. The turn of the century
ushered in a more substantial 1,347-person decrease in the region’s female prison
population, reflected in every Pacific state but Oregon. But by the end of 2004, the
decline had been erased by the addition of 2,003 women to prisons in Pacific states.

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The Midwest and South: Setting the national growth trend
Depending on how one looks at it, women’s prison populations in the Midwest and
South either set the national trend or tracked it closely, rising rapidly in the early
and late 1980s and mid-1990s. [8] Southern states (excluding Texas) were more
likely to see below-average growth rates during the 1980s, but the region has nearly
matched national median rates since then. Midwestern states’ median growth rates
have hovered at or below those of the nation as a whole since 1999 with the

exception of 2004, when the region’s annual growth rate shot to more than 8
percent.
The number of women added to Southern prisons each year remains substantial.
The region recorded its second-largest annual increase in 1999 (2,007 women), and
its fourth-largest increase took place in 2002 (1,853 women). Almost a quarter (23
percent) of Southern female prison population growth since 1979 took place in the
last five years.

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The Mountain states: Speeding ahead
Every region has seen women’s prison populations increase by leaps and bounds.
But the pace and persistence of growth in the Mountain states set the region apart
from the rest of the country. Over the past 27 years, the total female prison
population of the Mountain states has risen by 1,600 percent—twice the national
population growth rate of 757 percent.
The explosion of women’s prison populations in the Mountain states began in the
1980s and has continued in recent years. The region’s total female prison population
has increased by 56 percent since 1999—four times the 13 percent increase felt
nationally. Fully 38 percent of the growth in the Mountain states’ female prison
population over the past quarter-century occurred during the last five years.

Mountain states: Median antlUlOI change In state prison populalions

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Tough, tougher, toughest: Mountain and Southern states lead the rise in
female imprisonment rates
Analysis of median incarceration rates for the various regions shows similar patterns
with some critical differences. Southern states experienced the smallest proportional
growth in female imprisonment rates. But because the South began the 27-year
period with much higher rates than the rest of the country—a median of 11 per
100,000 residents compared to a median of five per 100,000 residents elsewhere—
increased use of incarceration had a greater impact there.
While the typical Midwest state added 40 female prisoners for every 100,000
residents between 1979 and 2004, and the typical Pacific state added 46 per
100,000, the median incarceration rate for Southern states grew by 57 per

100,000—second only to a Mountain state increase of 77 per 100,000. As for the
Northeastern states, it took a decade of breakneck growth to reach the place where
Southern states started in 1977.

Median female imprisonment rate by region: 1977 10 2004

~~--------~

State variance in the use of imprisonment for women
The use of imprisonment for women varies enormously by state as well as by
region. 129 of every 100,000 women in Oklahoma are serving a state prison
sentence while Massachusetts imprisons 11 women for every 100,000 female state
residents. Women make up over 12 percent of state prisoners in Montana—nearly
four times their 3.2 percent share of Rhode Island’s prison population. A handful of
states—including Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire and
North Dakota—have seen a greater than 20-fold increase in their female prison
populations since 1977. [9] Michigan and North Carolina, by contrast, experienced
comparatively “modest” four-fold growth over the same period.
The measures employed in the following comparative analysis of states—the female
imprisonment rate, the female proportion of the prison population, and female prison
population growth—help us identify patterns and trends that can guide future
research exploring how and why the extent of female imprisonment varies so greatly
among states. Each of these measures captures a different facet of the extent of
female imprisonment and how it has changed over time. Used together, the
measures pinpoint states where sentencing and correctional policies and trends
appear to have fallen harder, or less hard, on women. Ultimately, they help to
highlight both positive trends as well as unmet opportunities to reduce costs and
improve outcomes.

How states stack up

States stack up differently based on the measure used to compare them. Louisiana
has the nation’s third-highest female imprisonment rate (103 per 100,000 residents)
but women’s share of the state’s prison population (6.5 percent) falls below the
national median (7 percent). New Hampshire ranks third in female prison population
growth (up 5,850 percent since 1977) yet the state’s female imprisonment rate (18
per 100,000) remains the fourth-lowest in the nation. The chart at the end of this
section presents state statistics and ranks across all three measures (including
measures of population growth over two different time periods).
A handful of states, however, stand among the nation’s “toughest” on multiple
measures of female imprisonment. Trends in these states should be of particular
interest to researchers, policymakers and advocates who are concerned about the
damage that imprisonment can cause to women, their families and their
communities.
Heading the list is Montana, which devotes by far the largest share of its prison
beds to women. Montana’s female prison population has grown at the fastest rate in
the nation since 1977 and its female imprisonment rate (102 per 100,000) ranks
fourth nationwide.
Several other Mountain states also appear to be particularly tough on women.
Idaho and Colorado rank among the top 10 on every scale of female imprisonment,
including population growth over the last five years. Wyoming devotes the secondlargest share of prison space to women and imprisons them at the ninth-highest rate
in the nation. Arizona boasts the nation’s seventh-leading female imprisonment
rate and has seen its female prison population jump by more than 60 percent since
1999.
Among Southern states, Oklahoma and Mississippi merit special attention. Not
only do they imprison women at the highest rates in the nation, but Oklahoma is also
one of six states where women make up at least 10 percent of the prison population,
and Mississippi’s population has grown 28 times larger since 1977.
Three Midwestern states and one Pacific state demand also deserve notice, each for
a different set of reasons. Women are heavily overrepresented in South Dakota
prisons compared to rest of the nation, and the state’s incarceration and growth
rates are well above average. Missouri imprisons women at the eighth-highest rate
in the nation and also ranks poorly on the other scales of female imprisonment.
North Dakota has a comparatively low female imprisonment rate but devotes over
10 percent of its prison beds to women—a population whose numbers have shot up
6,350 percent since 1977 and doubled over the past five years. Women also
comprise over 10 percent of prisoners in Hawaii and, despite an 8 percent drop in
its female prison population since 1999, the Pacific state ranks fourth in population
growth over the past 27 years.
On the other end of the spectrum are several states that have made much less
extensive use of prisons for women. Rhode Island lands at the bottom by nearly
every measure. Women comprise just over three percent of Rhode Island’s prison
population and are imprisoned at a rate of 11 per 100,000 residents despite more
than four-fold growth in the number of female prisoners since 1977. Neighboring
Massachusetts is also remarkable for its equally low incarceration rate; the small

share of prison beds the state devotes to women (4.3 percent); and a 9 percent
reduction in the female prison population that has taken place in the last halfdecade.
New York and Michigan follow Rhode Island and Massachusetts, devoting a slightly
higher proportion of prison beds to women and imprisoning women at significantly
higher but still below-average rates. The growth rate of Michigan’s female prison
population over the past 27 years was the second-lowest in the nation (five percent
per year on average) and not far above the growth rate for men. New York claimed
the ninth-slowest growth rate as well as the most significant drop in its female prison
population since the turn of the century.
Several other Northeastern states, including New Hampshire, New Jersey and
Pennsylvania, fall near the bottom of most female imprisonment scales. The
Garden State recorded the second-largest female prison population reduction over
the last five years. New Hampshire, as previously mentioned, has maintained a low
female imprisonment rate despite huge proportional growth in its women’s prison
population.
Maryland and North Carolina deserve mention for another reason. Both states
have experienced unusually slow growth in their female prison populations since
1977, bringing imprisonment rates that were once among the nation’s highest into
the bottom ranks.

Measures of state use of imprisonment for women

State
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts

Imprisonment rate: Proportion of all Prison population growth: Prison population growth:
2004
prisoners: 2004
1977 to 2004
1999 to 2004
Rate
Rank % female Rank
Growth
Rank
Growth
Rank
71
15
6.6%
32
645%
35
3%
39
55
25
6.6%
30
729%
32
31%
24
89
7
8.2%
16
1261%
13
62%
9
65
19
6.7%
28
900%
24
17%
29
61
22
6.6%
31
1522%
9
1%
41
83
10
9.4%
8
2539%
6
57%
10
44
33
6.0%
39
1010%
18
-3%
45
51
28
5.3%
43
424%
43
0%
42
64
20
6.6%
29
551%
39
48%
16
77
11
6.7%
27
596%
38
32%
22
69
16
10.5%
3
3029%
4
-8%
47
93
6
10.1%
5
2211%
7
62%
8
43
34
6.2%
35
893%
25
-2%
44
59
23
7.9%
19
1347%
12
54%
11
50
29
8.9%
10
801%
27
40%
19
45
32
6.9%
26
597%
37
9%
35
69
17
8.4%
14
949%
21
32%
23
103
3
6.5%
33
1000%
19
5%
37
18
48
6.1%
37
757%
31
114%
1
39
41
5.0%
44
353%
48
13%
30
11
49
4.3%
48
382%
45
-9%
48

Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Federal

41
21
107
85
102
39
77
18
33
56
28
40
41
54
129
54
28
11
66
75
63
101
42
25
71
42
48
47
84

37
46
2
8
4
40
12
47
42
24
44
39
38
27
1
26
43
50
18
13
21
5
35
45
14
36
30
31
9

7

U.S. Average
64
SOURCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics

4.3%
6.2%
8.2%
8.1%
12.2%
8.6%
7.8%
4.9%
5.5%
8.9%
4.4%
5.7%
10.4%
7.1%
10.0%
7.5%
4.4%
3.2%
6.3%
9.4%
7.4%
7.2%
8.5%
5.5%
7.6%
7.9%
8.8%
6.1%
10.6%

49
36
15
17
1
12
20
45
42
9
47
40
4
25
6
22
46
50
34
7
23
24
13
41
21
18
11
38
2

293%
625%
2711%
1484%
23550%
377%
1251%
5850%
717%
930%
445%
282%
6350%
452%
1237%
776%
763%
362%
417%
1511%
721%
1141%
1573%
789%
978%
477%
909%
863%
1213%

49
36
5
11
1
46
14
3
34
22
42
50
2
41
15
29
30
47
44
10
33
17
8
28
20
40
23
26
16

4%
54%
25%
33%
80%
44%
20%
2%
-21%
81%
-23%
30%
102%
12%
-1%
68%
12%
5%
9%
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15

New Century finds women leading opposing incarceration
trends
Women’s prison population growth outstripped growth in the men’s population in
every state during the past 27 years. A different trend has emerged since the end of
1999. Women continue to be disproportionately impacted in states where overall
growth rates remain high. But among states that experienced little or no prison
population growth, a large majority saw growth rates for female prisoners fall below
rates for males.
Women led the growth trend in 29 of 30 states where the total prison population
(male and female) rose by 10 percent or more over the last half-decade. The
opposite was true of states that experienced slower growth or a net decline in their
total prison population—13 of 20 saw their male prison population rise more quickly,
or decline more slowly, than their female population.
The differences could not be starker. In North Dakota, West Virginia and Oregon—
states where the total prison population has jumped by more than a third since
1999—the female prison population is growing at twice the rate of the male
population. On the other hand, New York and New Jersey have watched prison
populations fall by more than 10 percent, led by even sharper drops in the number of
women behind prison bars (23 percent and 21 percent, respectively). [10]
Women’s imprisonment is not driving growth trends in most states, since their share
of the total population, while growing, remains relatively small. Instead, the data
suggest that women’s prison populations may be especially sensitive to the factors
that drive rapid growth in the overall prison population.

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What can research tell us about the problem?
The question of whether the increased involvement of women in the criminal justice
system reflects actual changes in their involvement in an expanding range of
activities considered criminal or changes in law enforcement and sentencing policies
and practices has received some attention. The 1970s saw a great deal of debate in
the media over whether the women’s movement for equal rights would produce an
era of “liberated” women criminals who would venture into serious, violent criminal
activities.
Some academics claimed that increased arrests of women were evidence that the
feminist movement was driving new trends in women’s involvement in crime. [11]
Others countered that close analysis of arrest data indicated that increased arrests of
women were largely occurring in categories conceived as traditionally female such as
shoplifting, prostitution and passing bad checks. [12]
Debate about women’s involvement in violent crime was freshened in the early
1990s with the charge that women in New York City were becoming more involved in
violent street crime. [13] It was argued that the high incidence of homicides and
imprisonment among young men in these neighborhoods had increased opportunities
for young women to enter the “informal drug economy” as dealers. Women were
described as responding to the same social and economic dynamics that drove
increased levels of violence among men, making gender a “less salient factor.”
Controversy over the role of women in New York’s epidemic of violent street crime
faded as reports of violent crime in the City plummeted over the next decade.
Meda Chesney-Lind, a prominent scholar and outspoken advocate for the needs of
girls and women in the criminal justice system, contends that pro-arrest policies for
police handling of domestic violence incidents have contributed to an unwarranted
rise in arrests of women for violent offenses. [14] She cites large increases in
domestic violence arrests of women during the 1990s in Maryland and California, and
points out that increases in arrests of women for assault during this period did not
track arrests of women for murder—an arrest category that could be presumed to
increase if women were becoming more assaultive. In fact, arrests of women for
murder have steadily declined.
In the federal criminal justice system, draconian mandatory minimum sentencing
laws and rigid sentencing guidelines have increased the proportion of women who
receive prison sentences and the length of time women spend behind bars. The
federal sentencing reforms of the mid-1980s have resulted in higher rates of
incarceration of women for economic offenses, and have drastically increased the
length of incarceration for drug offenses.
Myrna Raeder charges that these reforms have “subverted the earlier nonincarcerative model of female sentencing,” where women tended to receive probation
or shorter prison terms. [15] She argues that a defendant’s primary responsibilities
for care of children should be taken into account by judges at sentencing out of
concern that imprisonment rests enormous hardships on them. Raeder contends
that while such a policy might benefit more women than men (because women more
often fill this familial role) no true affront to gender equity would stem from this
accommodation.

Most recent research literature devoted to analysis of women in the criminal justice
system presents four distinct themes to describe the etiology of women’s criminal
behaviors and their personal and social problems. First, most women in the criminal
justice system come from neighborhoods that are entrenched in poverty and largely
lacking in viable systems of social support. Second, alarmingly large numbers of
these women have experienced very serious physical and/or sexual abuse, often
commencing when they were young children. Third, as adults, most of these women
are plagued with high levels of physical and mental health problems as well as
substance abuse issues. Often these problems are combined and compounded.
Fourth, the great majority of the women who have suffered from these deprivations,
histories of trauma and abuse, and health deficits are mothers—and they are far
more likely than men in the criminal justice system to be the sole support and
caregivers for their children.
The relationship between violent physical and sexual abuse and women’s
incarceration has been traced by Angela Browne in her research on the high rates of
women in prison with histories of abuse. [16] She reports strong associations
between histories of childhood sexual abuse and violence and subsequent problems
such as alcohol and drug abuse; involvement in prostitution; involvement with
violent intimates who are involved in other criminal activities; and arrests for
criminal offenses.
Beth Richie has drawn from the life histories of women in jail to illustrate a link
between “culturally-constructed gender-identity development, violence against
women in intimate relationships, and women’s participation in illegal activities.” [17]
She argues that “gender entrapment” of African American women—violence from
intimate partners resulting in “acute injuries, chronic pain, sexual degradation, and
emotional trauma”—can lead them to commit crimes.
Most women of color entering the criminal justice system come from economically
distressed communities lacking in social supports. Much of the drug abuse that
characterizes these women’s involvement in criminal behavior is understood as “self
medication” used to ease the pain and suffering brought about by the circumstances
of their life histories. The flood of crack cocaine that hit urban areas such as New
York City in the late 1980s served to increase women’s involvement in street-level
prostitution, a mainstay survival strategy for women addicts along with low-level
drug dealing and petty property crimes. [18]

The war on drugs and other drivers of female prison population
growth
Other efforts to explain the sharp increase in women’s imprisonment have focused
on the “war on drugs,” with its emphasis on street-level sweeps of those engaged in
the drug trade and harsh mandatory sentencing. The crackdown on drug crime was
sold to the American public as the answer to an escalating epidemic of male
violence. Yet despite their roles as relatively minor players in the drug trade,
women—disproportionate numbers of them African American and Latina—have been
“caught in the net” of increasingly punitive policing, prosecutorial, and sentencing
policies. [19] Once in the system, women often have little choice but to accept plea
bargains and then face mandatory minimum sentencing laws that restrict judges
from mitigating the impact of their sentencing decisions in consideration of their
family situations or their obvious need for substance abuse treatment.

Analysis of national and state corrections data provide support for this explanation.
The proportion of female state prisoners convicted of drug offenses has risen from
just 11 percent in 1979 to 32 percent at the end of 2002. [20] By contrast, 21
percent of male prisoners were serving time for drug offenses in 2002.
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SOURCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics. “Prisoners in 2004.”
Washington, DC: Department of Justice
The burden of increased incarceration for drug sales has fallen more heavily on
women of color than on white women. An overall increase of 433 percent in the
female drug prisoner population between 1986 and 1991 was comprised of a 241
percent increase for white women, a 328 percent increase for Latina women, and a
staggering 828 percent increase for African American women. [21]
Barbara Bloom maintains that the intersection of race, class and gender puts lowincome women of color, especially African American women, in “triple jeopardy” and
contributes to their disproportionate incarceration. Cultural stereotypes limit their
access to programs and services that could help them improve their economic
circumstances, strengthen their family units, and avoid criminal involvement. [22]
Natalie Sokoloff contends that since African American women—who comprise 12
percent of the female population in the U.S.—now comprise more than 50 percent of
women in prison, the “war on drugs” has become a “war on poor black women.” [23]
The impact of drug enforcement on women’s incarceration appears to vary among
different state sentencing regimes. In New York, a state characterized by Marc
Mauer as operating a “drug-driven criminal justice system,” drug offenses accounted
for 91 percent of the increase in the number of women sentenced to prison from

1986 to 1995. In Minnesota, where a structured sentencing guidelines system
affords judges more discretion than is provided New York’s judges under the
inflexible Rockefeller Drug Laws, drug offenses accounted for just 26 percent of the
increase in women’s imprisonment. [24]
Women arrested for involvement in the drug trade tend to play peripheral or minimal
roles, selling small amounts to support a habit, or simply living with intimates who
engage in drug sales. [25] Once arrested under mandatory minimum drug laws,
women face intense pressure to plea bargain but are likely to have little or no
information about larger drug market operations to use as bargaining chips.
Mandatory minimum drug laws remove the discretion that judges might otherwise
use to take account of mitigating factors such as a woman’s role giving primary
support and care to children or to elder relatives.
The escalating “war on drugs” has often been stoked with inflamed portrayals of
drug-involved women in the popular media. In the mid-1980s, pregnant addicts
giving birth to ailing “crack babies” became drug-enforcement icons. Twenty years
later there is scant evidence to substantiate the dire predictions of permanent and
severe damage to their children due to their drug use. Neither hysteria about “crack
babies” nor increased resources for drug court programs has produced a significant
effort to increase access to effective drug treatment for pregnant women. Yet
current media depictions of women addicted to methamphetamine are fueling the
same hysteria with respect to pregnant women’s drug use. [26]
The drug war has been a major driver of female prison population growth but not the
only one. Between 1995 and 2004, arrests of adult women for drug offenses rose by
48 percent compared to 23 percent growth for men. [27] But arrests of women for
violent offenses were also up by 6.3 percent in contrast to a nearly 17 percent
decline for men.

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SOURCE: FBI. “Crime in the United States—2004.” Washington, DC: Department
of Justice
While arrests of adult women between 1995 and 2004 have increased by 13 percent
overall, their arrests for the more serious “index” offenses (murder, rape, robbery,
aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson) have
declined by 3 percent. The main share of increase in arrests of women for violent
index crime was in the category of aggravated assaults. Arrests of women for
murder during the period actually declined by 12 percent.
In terms of women’s share of overall arrests, the pattern appears relatively stable
over the decade, increasing from 20 percent to 23 percent. For more serious index
crime, women’s share rose from 24 percent to 27 percent. The vast majority of
women’s arrests are for lower-level offenses, with 82 percent of women’s arrests

falling into the less serious “non-index” category. This includes a large number of
arrests for drug violations, as well as minor offenses typically thought to be
“women’s crimes,” such as shoplifting and welfare fraud.
While the FBI arrest data displayed above show a 6 percent increase in arrests of
women for violent index offenses between 1995 and 2004, data available from the
National Crime Victimization Survey show no significant increase in actual violent
victimizations by women for the period. [28]

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SOURCE: NCVS. “Criminal Victimization in the United States - Statistical tables”
Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics

The social costs of women’s incarceration
National Profile of Women Offenders
A profile based on national data for women offenders reveals the following characteristics:
•
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•
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Disproportionately women of color.
In their early to mid-30s.
Most likely to have been convicted of a drug-related offense.
From fragmented families that include other family members who also have been
involved with the criminal justice system.
Survivors of physical and/or sexual abuse as children and adults.
Individuals with significant substance abuse problems.
Individuals with multiple physical and mental health problems.
Unmarried mothers of minor children.
Individuals with a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED) but limited

vocational training and sporadic work histories.
SOURCE: NIC: “Gender-Responsive Strategies”
This profile of women in the criminal justice system clearly illustrates their multiple
needs. Joanne Belknap reports that as prisoners, women are disadvantaged in terms
of access to educational, vocational, and recreational programs, as well as to
healthcare. [29] A paucity of services and programs for women in prison has been
justified by the high cost, given women’s small numbers relative to men behind
bars. Her research documents inadequate access to healthcare and program
services. She found differences among women’s programming needs according to
their level of substance abuse, their race, and the length of their prison term.
African American women had much higher rates of participation in education and
drug programs, and were far more likely to request access to vocational training.
Belknap also identified a need for more programs to help women deal with histories
of sexual and physical abuse.
Added to the many issues, problems and barriers women share with men at reentry
from prison, women must struggle with reunification of their families. More than 70
percent of women in prison have children. Even before a mother’s arrest and
separation from the family unit, many children will have experienced emotional
hardship associated with parental substance abuse and economic instability. While
she is incarcerated they suffer additional trauma, anxiety, guilt, shame and fear.
[30]
More than half of mothers in prison have no visits with their children for the duration
of their time behind bars. [31] Children are generally subject to instability and
uncertainly while their mothers are imprisoned. On average, the children of
incarcerated mothers will live with at least two different caregivers during the period
of their incarceration. More than half will experience separation from their siblings.
[32]
More than 80 percent of mothers in prison plan to reunify their families upon release,
but accomplishing this goal is often very difficult. Prior to a mother’s arrest and
incarceration, the typical family unit survived on an income of less than $500 per
month. [33] Generally lacking adequate job skills and an acceptable record of past
employment, most women are ill-prepared to support a family upon their release
from prison. Moreover, the communities to which they return are ill-prepared to
receive them.
Dina Rose and Todd Clear’s groundbreaking research has documented that the
removal of women from their neighborhoods through incarceration has a
disproportionate affect on the community because of the multiple roles they play.
Rose and Clear’s research also documents the disproportionate concentration of
people returning from prison to a relatively small number of urban neighborhoods
within large cities. [34] These neighborhoods are stressed by a lack of economic
and social capital. Most residents are beleaguered with the challenges of daily
survival and are not prepared to stretch their meager resources to accommodate the
needs of their returning friends and relatives.
Natalie Sokoloff has examined the broad impact of mass incarceration on African
American women—women in prison; those left behind in communities when their

loved-ones and friends are sent to prisons; and women who leave prison to reenter
the communities they left behind. [35] Incarceration of both women and men from
poor communities removes the contributions they were making—income, childcare,
elder care and emotional support—from the families they leave behind.
The Legal Action Center has cataloged the many ways that a women’s criminal
record may restrict access to vital resources when she returns from prison: denial of
public housing; denial of welfare benefits and food stamps; denial of financial
assistance for education; and barriers to employment. [36] These post-conviction
penalties constitute an additional layer of punishment that endures far beyond the
prison sentence handed down by a judge.

Policies that make a difference
Many advocates for rational criminal justice policies worried that the “prison boom”
and its attendant spiral into harsh punitiveness would never abate. Six years into
the new century, we see that crime rates have plummeted, and public attitudes
about criminal justice issues have experienced a remarkable shift. Over the past few
years most states in the U.S. have struggled with a severe fiscal crisis. In the face
of declining revenues, policymakers—both Republicans and Democrats—have been
re-thinking many of the costly correctional policies they had embraced when
revenues were booming.
A clear majority of states have embraced one or more constructive measures to roll
back harsh laws and policies. Most are experiencing a far more moderate rate of
prison population growth. In 31 states policymakers have introduced major reforms
in their effort to cut costs while improving the effectiveness of their sentencing and
correctional systems. At least 20 states have rolled back mandatory minimum
sentences or restructured other harsh penalties enacted in preceding years to get
tough on low-level drug offenders or non-violent lawbreakers. Legislators in at
least 24 states have eased prison population pressures with mechanisms to shorten
time served in prison, speed the release of prisoners who pose little risk to public
safety, and penalize those who violate release conditions without returning them to
prison. [37]
State revenue performance improved somewhat in 2004 but many state officials are
continuing on a trajectory of reform. [38] While some states, as well as the federal
criminal justice system, still remain on the same old “get tough” course, a handful of
states have turned the corner and begun to significantly downsize their prison
systems.
Given that the majority of women in the prison system are sentenced for nonviolent
crimes that stem from drug abuse and economic marginalization, women should be a
key focus for policymakers as they craft more humane and cost effective alternatives
to incarceration. The prevalence of nonviolent conviction offenses and the lower
recidivism rates experienced by women after release from prison indicate that
decarceration efforts targeting women would present few risks to public safety. And
the status of many women as primary caregivers to their children should weigh
heavily in favor of diverting them to community-based programs designed to
enhance their ability to lead self-sufficient, successful lives in the community.

Indeed, efforts in a few states to reduce reliance on incarceration suggests that just
as the get-tough excesses of the 1980s and 1990s have had greater impact on
women, strategies that reverse their effects should bring greater relief for women.
For example, enactment of Proposition 36 in 2000 by voters in California has
diverted tens of thousands of people arrested for possession of drugs. By 2001 the
number of women sentenced to prison had dropped by 10 percent, and correctional
managers attributed Proposition 36 as the largest factor driving the decline. [39]
Early in 2003 the Department of Corrections was able to close the Northern
California Women’s Facility at Stockton, with savings expected to total $31.6 million
by July 2006. [40]
In New York, reduced levels of crime and arrests—combined with a series of
measures such as increased “merit time” [41] for drug prisoners and “presumptive
release” [42] for many prisoners serving time in prison for nonviolent crimes—have
contributed to six straight years of downsizing in the state prison system. The prison
population dropped from almost 73,000 in 1999 to about 63,000 today. New York’s
downsizing appears to be impacting women—whose numbers fell by 23 percent
between 1999 and 2004—at higher rates than men, who saw a 12 percent decline.
[43]
Supervision conditions set by probation and parole authorities can scuttle a woman’s
best efforts to comply with an overload of rigid rules and requirements. Policy
changes designed to reduce technical violation rates, such as the use of intermediate
sanctions, should have favorable results for women, since many are revoked to
prison for violations of community supervision requirements related to substance
abuse or conflicts between reporting requirements and family responsibilities.
Efforts to break the cycle of crime and incarceration for women should be focused on
helping them to learn more effective ways to cope with the stresses they face,
strengthening their social and familial support networks, and enhancing their access
to education and employment opportunities. Substance abuse treatment and other
program interventions for women must be gender-responsive. Confrontational
therapeutic techniques designed to break down the denial and defenses of men are
likely to be counterproductive for women with histories of extreme psychological,
physical and sexual trauma.
Alternative programs for women must take account of the family responsibilities
women bear. Women are typically required to separate from their children when
they enter residential treatment. Intervention programs designed for women should
be designed with the understanding that they and their families are often burdened
with pressures from conflicting and inflexible requirements of multiple agencies.
Criminal justice, welfare and child welfare agencies may set competing or conflicting
goals and conditions for women, while limiting or denying access to essential
services needed to stabilize and maintain the family unit. [44]
The problems have become particularly acute since the mid-1990s federal legislative
“reforms” imposed a thicket of barriers to family preservation and women’s
recovery. These include the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which accelerates
termination of parental rights to children in foster care; and the Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which permanently bars
anyone with a drug-related felony conviction from receiving federal cash assistance
and food stamps. [45] Federal law further restricts Temporary Aid to Needy

Families and Supplemental Social Security Income to people who violate conditions
of probation or parole. [46]
When women are released from prison they face the same barriers to reentry as
men—social stigmatization; lack of adequate housing; few or no employment
opportunities; and denial of public benefits and services. Social reintegration is
difficult enough when people return from prison to the high-poverty neighborhoods
they left behind when they entered prison. Caught in a “catch-22,” many women
cannot obtain government aid to secure adequate housing because they do not have
custody of their children—and they cannot secure custody of their children because
they do not have adequate housing.
Ann Jacobs maintains reentry services should be coordinated to address the multiple
challenges that women face. [47] Reentry planning must not prioritize one or two
dimensions (e.g., substance abuse treatment and/or employment) over other
dimensions (e.g., housing needs, family reunification and/or problems of past sexual
abuse) that, if left unaddressed, can lead to relapse and recidivism. WPA has
devised a reentry “matrix” to illustrate how planning for successful reentry must
incorporate strategies that simultaneously address at least five domains, or basic life
areas, keyed to moving a women forward through three phases of reintegration:

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SOURCE: Improving the Odds: Women in Community Corrections WPA
The matrix makes it clear that no single agency in government or the community
service sector can fill all of a woman’s reentry needs; a coordinated effort is needed.
Further, to the extent that we create these coordinated community supports, we will
also be preventing women from coming into contact with the criminal justice and
child welfare systems in the first place.

Conclusion
During the past quarter-century, we have witnessed a truly extraordinary rise in the
number of women behind bars—at a rate of growth that far exceeds an already
staggering increase in the male prison population. The burden of the expanding

female prison population has not been borne equally. Women in Oklahoma are over
ten times more likely to be serving a state prison sentence than counterparts in
Massachusetts or Rhode Island. While the number of women imprisoned in other
parts of the country shot up 800 percent, the number in Mountain states’ prisons
leapt 1,600 percent.
The majority of women in the U.S. prison system are serving sentences for
nonviolent drug and property offenses. Many are incarcerated as a result of the
overly harsh laws and policies adopted at the height of the “war on drugs.” Yet
recent national research on public preferences about crime and corrections indicates
strong support—by a two to one margin—for measures that address the causes of
crime over strict sentencing. Most Americans favor mandatory drug treatment and
community service rather than prison—even for those who sell small amounts of
drugs. [48] From both an economic and public safety standpoint, the advantages of
employing substance-abuse treatment and gender-responsive services instead of
prison for such women are clear.
Incarcerating women does not solve the problems that underlie their involvement in
the criminal justice system. Their imprisonment creates enormous turmoil and
suffering for their children. What makes far more sense is sensible sentencing
reforms and public investment in effective drug treatment and gender-responsive
services to aid women who seek to live law-abiding lives and provide a healthy and
stable home for their children.
WPA’s “matrix” approach to reentry can serve just as well as a model for assisting
women who might otherwise face incarceration to stabilize themselves and their
families, and to attain self-sufficiency and successful lives in their communities.
Supporting such a process requires understanding how poverty, trauma and
victimization (past and present) and bad choices can combine to propel women into
substance abuse and criminal involvement. Assisting them effectively means
providing access to coordinated services that address these multiple issues
simultaneously.
The experience of the last five years demonstrates that continued female prison
population growth is not inevitable, and also that measures to reign in prison
population growth may be especially beneficial to women. Policymakers and
practitioners are in dire need of better information on the causes and consequences
of, and alternatives to, this rapid growth in the number of women behind bars.
More research is needed to tell us how prisons are being used for women: what kinds
of offenses are driving increases in the number of women in prison, and how the mix
of female prisoners serving short and long sentences is affecting population levels.
Further study is needed to determine to what extent variations in incarceration rates
are driven by differences in criminal behavior, and to what extent they are driven by
differences in law enforcement, sentencing, correctional practice.
Despite efforts by a handful of excellent researchers, the unique issues facing women
in the criminal justice system remain poorly understood, in part because they
comprise a small—if growing—share of the nation’s prison population. A better
understanding of this population is critical for several reasons.

First, while the impact of incarcerating women is not necessarily greater than the
impact of incarcerating men, it is certainly different. Women prisoners were more
likely to have been primary caretakers of children prior to incarceration, and their
absence can place unique strains on families. Women also respond differently to
incarceration. It is often observed that correctional facilities fail to provide prisoners
with the tools needed to succeed on the outside. This may be especially true for
women with a history of trauma or past abuse.
Second, existing research also suggests that women’s pathways to prison may differ
from those of men. As a consequence, strategies for improving criminal justice
outcomes and reducing use of imprisonment are unlikely to succeed if these
differences are not addressed.
Third, examination of trends in the incarceration of women can shed light on the
larger issue of steadily rising incarceration rates. Analysis of recent prison
population trends presented in this brief suggests that female prison populations are
particularly sensitive to the factors that drive overall levels of imprisonment. Not
only could further research help generate strategies that produce better outcomes
for women, but some of the same strategies could be deployed to improve outcomes
for men.
But more research on these issues is just the starting point. Action is needed to
address the multitude of policies and practices that ensnare women in systems that
cannot recognize and accommodate their needs as individuals and as parents. More
and more incarceration should not be our response to the ways in which poverty,
trauma, and addiction surface in women. Women should be supported—at the
individual, family, and community level—in their efforts to create self-sufficient,
successful lives for themselves and their families.
Notes and Data Sources

[1] Harrison, Paige M. and Allen J. Beck. Prisoners in 2004. (Washington, DC:
Bureau of Justice Statistics, October 2005)
[2] All prison population and imprisonment rates which are not separately footnoted
come from data files compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and available on the
BJS website (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/). For purposes of this analysis, only
prisoners serving sentences of more than a year are included in order to facilitate
state comparisons. As a result, prison population figures reported here may differ
slightly from figures reported elsewhere.
[3] In general, national and regional trends in state prison population growth rates
and imprisonment rates are reported here in terms of median rates rather than the
overall rate for the group in question. The purpose of reporting median rates (and
proportions where the female share of the prison population is at issue) is to give
equal weight to developments in all 50 states rather than presenting results that
primarily reflect trends in the most populous states. For example, a chart of overall
growth rates for the female prison population of the Pacific states would be virtually
identical to a chart of California growth rates, since the state accounts for 82 percent

of the region’s female prison population. Where rates and proportions are based on
total regional populations rather than the median for states in the region, they are
described as “overall” or “total” rates and proportions in order to avoid confusion.
[4] Snell, Tracy. L. and Danielle C. Morton. Women in Prison. Washington DC:
Bureau of Justice Statistics. 1994
[5] BJS reports group states in four geographic regions defined by the U.S. Census—
Northeast, Midwest, South and West. The same regional breakdown is employed in
this brief, with the exception of the West, which has been divided into its two
components—Pacific and Mountain states. The purpose of distinguishing Mountain
and Pacific states (both geographic divisions established by the Census Bureau) is to
more closely examine sharply differing trends in the regions’ use of imprisonment for
women.
[6] The Northeast region is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
[7] The Pacific states include Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
[8] The Southern region encompasses Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida,
Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. In this section,
however, the median annual growth rates and net growth in Southern female prison
populations are presented without data from Texas because anomalies in the state’s
prisoner count would distort the regional picture. BJS statistics show that Texas’
female prison population grew by 188 percent a single year (1993), which represents
close to half of all growth in the state’s female prison population over a 25-year
period. Rather than a tripling of the state’s female prison population in the course of
a single year, it is likely that the apparent jump is a result of years of
undercounting—possibly of state prisoners housed in local jails due to a shortage of
state prison beds.
[9] In some cases, proportional growth in female prison populations is exaggerated
by the fact that states started with just a handful of prisoners. For example, the
three states with the highest growth rates—Montana, North Dakota and New
Hampshire—each began the 27-year period with just two female prisoners. As a
result, each new prisoner added 50 percent to the state’s proportional rate of
population growth. In New Hampshire, where female imprisonment rates remain
among the nation’s lowest, the proportional growth rate appears to be largely
anomalous. On the other hand, Montana’s growth pushed the state from the bottom
to one of the top female imprisonment rates, which suggests that the state’s 23,000
percent growth rate—while somewhat exaggerated—points to a very real and drastic
growth trend.
[10] The most striking exception to this trend is Ohio, where a 5.4 percent drop in
the men’s prison population has been partially offset by 12-percent growth in the
women’s population.
[11] Adler, Frieda. Sisters in Crime (New York, McGraw-Hill, 1975)

[12] Steffensmeier, Darrell J. “Sex differences in patterns of adult crime, 19651977: A review and Assessment.” Social Forces, Vol. 58, No. 4 (1980)
[13] Baskin, Deborah, Ira Sommers and Jeffrey Fagan. “The political economy of
female violent street crime.” Fordham Urban Law Journal. Vol. 20 (1993)
[14] Chesney-Lind, Meda. “Criminalizing victimization: the unintended consequences
of pro-arrest policies for girls and women.” Criminology and Public Policy, Vol. 2, No.
1 (November, 2002)
[15] Raeder, Myrna S. “The forgotten offenders: the effect of sentencing guidelines
and mandatory minimums on women and their children.” Federal Sentencing
Reporter. Vol. 8, No. 3 (December, 1995)
[16] Browne, Angela, Brenda Miller and Eugene Maguin. “Prevalence and Severity of
Lifetime Physical and Sexual Victimization Amond Incarcerated Women.”
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. Vol. 22, Nos. 3-4 (1999)
[17] Richie, Beth. Compelled to Crime: the gender entrapment of battered black
women. (London: Routledge, 1996)
[18] Chesney-Lind, Meda. The Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime. 2nd
edition. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2004)
[19] Lapidus, Lenora, Namita Luthra & Anjuli Verma; Deborah Small; Patricia Allard
& Kirsten Levingston. “Caught in the Net: the Impact of Drug Policies on Women
and Families.” Online at http:// http://www.fairlaws4families.org/final-caught-inthe-net-report.pdf.
[20] Bureau of Justice Statistics. Profile of state prison inmates -- 1986.
Washington, DC: US Department of Justice. 1988; Harrison, Prisoners in 2004
[21] Mauer, Marc and Tracy Huling. Young Black Americans and the Criminal Justice
System: Five Years Later. (Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project. 1995)
[22] Bloom, Barbara, Barbara Owen and Stephanie Covington. Gender-Responsive
Strategies: Research, Practice and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders.
(Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections, June 2003)
[23] Sokoloff, Natalie. “Women Prisoners at the Dawn of the 20th Century.” Women
in Criminal Justice. Vol. 16, No. 1/2 (2005)
[24] Mauer, Marc, Cathy Potler and Richard Wolf. Gender and Justice: Women,
Drugs, and Sentencing Policy. (Washington DC: The Sentencing Project.
November, 1999)
[25] Lapidus et. al. “Caught in the Net: the Impact of Drug Policies on Women and
Families.”
[26] Ibid.

[27] Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States—2004.
(Washington, DC: Department of Justice)
[28] NVCS data are not yet available for 2004.
[29] Belknap, Joanne. “Access to programs and healthcare for incarcerated
women.” Federal Probation. Vol 60, Issue 4 (December 1996)
[30] Jacobs, Ann. “Give ‘em a Fighting Chance: The Challenges for Women
Offenders Trying to Succeed in the Community". Topics in Community Corrections.
(Washington DC: National Institute of Corrections 2000)
[31] Chesney-Lind, The Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime.
[32] Women’s Prison Association. Breaking the Cycle of Despair: Children of
incarcerated mothers (New York: WPA 1995)
[33] Ibid.
[34] Rose, Dina R, Todd Clear and Judith A. Ryder, Drugs, Incarcerations and
Neighborhood Life: The Impact of Reintegrating Offenders in the Community.
(Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice 2000)
[35] Sokoloff, Natalie. “The Impact of the Prison Industrial Complex on African
American Women.” Souls Vol. 5, no. 2 (Spring 2003)
[36] Samuels, Paul and Debbie Mukamal. After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry. (New
York: Legal Action Center 2004)
[37] Greene, Judith A. Positive Trends in State-Level Sentencing and Corrections
Policy. Available online at http://www.justicestrategies.net/Publications.htm
(Updates from the author)
[38] Lyons, Donna. State Crime Legislation in 2004. (Denver, CO: National
Conference of State Legislatures.)
[39] Martin, Mark. “Changing population behind bars: Major drop in women in state
prisons. San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 2001
[40] Ziedenberg, Jason and Scott Ahlers. Prop. 36: Five years later. (Washington
DC: Justice Policy Institute. April 2006)
[41] Prisoners serving a mandatory sentence under the Rockefeller Drug Laws can
receive a “merit time” reduction of their sentence in the amount of one-third of the
minimum imposed by the court, provided they have a good behavior record and
participate in work or treatment programs to prepare themselves for release.
[42] New York’s “earned eligibility” program allows certain prisoners that complete
work and/or treatment program assignments to earn a “certificate” that sets a
presumption that they will be released at their first parole hearing unless the parole
board decides otherwise.

[43] These data were obtained from the online “Criminal Justice Data Sheet” of the
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.
[44] Women’s Advocacy Project, Making Family Reunification a Reality for Criminal
Justice Involved Women, available online at:
http://www.wpaonline.org/pdf/Recommendations_2005.pdf
[45] Allard, Patricia. Life Sentences: Denying welfare Benefits To Women Convicted
Of Drug Offenses. (Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project. February 2002)
States may choose to “opt out” of these restrictions but many have not done so.
[46] Jacobs, "Give 'em a fighting chance".
[47] Jacobs, Ann. Improving the Odds: Women in Community Corrections. Online
at http://www.wpaonline.org/pdf/Improving_the_Odds.pdf
[48] Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc. Changing Public Attitudes toward the
Criminal Justice System. (February 2002)

Part II: State by State Analysis
by Dr. Natasha A. Frost, Northeastern University

National Overview
U.S. IMPRISONMENT AT A GLANCE
Imprisonment Rate 1977: 129

Female Imprisonment Rate 1977:

Imprisonment Rate 2004: 486

Female Imprisonment Rate 2004:

10
64

Total Female Sentenced Prisoners 1977: 11,212
Total Female Sentenced Prisoners 2004: 96,125
Percent Increase 1977-2004: 757 %
Average Annual Percent Increase 1977-2004: 8 %
Percent Increase 1999-2004:

17 %

IMPRISONMENT IN THE UNITED STATES
At year-end 2004, United States state and federal prisons housed 1,433,793 inmates
serving sentences of more than one year. Of these inmates, 1,337,668 were male
and 96,125 were female.
In 1977, United States prisons housed 11,212 female inmates: by 2004, the female
prison population had increased almost nine-fold, reaching 96,125. The number of
female inmates grew every year except for 2001 when the number of female
inmates dropped slightly before resuming its upward trend. Between 1977 and 2004,
the female imprisonment rate in the United States grew by 757% (with an average
annual change of 8% per year).

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Female Imprisonment Rates
Between 1977 and 2004, the United States female imprisonment rate (including the
federal prison system and the prison populations of all fifty states) grew from 10 to
64 female prisoners per 100,000 female residents.

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CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES
The source for all correctional facility data in this report is the 2000 Census of State
and Federal Correctional Facilities (Stephan and Karberg, 2003). According to the
2000 Census of State and Federal Correctional Facilities, the United States has 1,668
state and federal correctional facilities. Of the 1,668 correctional facilities, 1,287
house male prisoners only, 156 house female prisoners only, and 225 house both
male and female prisoners.
MALE TO FEMALE IMPRISONMENT RATIO
The male to female imprisonment ratio indicates the number of male inmates for
every female inmate. Although both female and male imprisonment rates have
increased over the period of study, a shrinking ratio suggests that the number of
female prisoners has increased at a faster pace than the number of male prisoners.
In 1977, the United States imprisoned 24 male prisoners for every female prisoner –
by 2004, this ratio had fallen to 14 male prisoners for every female prisoner
(including all 50 states and the federal system).
STATE-LEVEL VARIATION

As is always the case, viewing the United States as a whole masks substantial statelevel variations in imprisonment practices. Some states are significantly more
punitive in female imprisonment rates than others. Although imprisonment rates
have grown in all states between 1977 and 2004, that growth has taken different
shapes, with some experiencing rapid growth and others demonstrating a surprising
stability (particularly relative to other states) long after the beginning of
unprecedented growth in the use of imprisonment across the country as a whole.

TEN MOST PUNITIVE STATES
FEMALE IMPRISONMENT RATES 2004
STATE

RATE

RANK

Oklahoma

129

1

Mississippi

107

2

Louisiana

103

3

Montana

102

4

Texas

101

5

Idaho

93

6

Arizona

89

7

Missouri

85

8

Wyoming

84

9

Colorado

83

10

TEN LEAST PUNITIVE STATES
FEMALE IMPRISONMENT RATES 2004

STATE

RATE

RANK

Rhode Island

11

50

Massachusetts

11

49

Maine

18

48

New Hampshire

18

47

Minnesota

21

46

Vermont

25

45

New York

28

44

Pennsylvania

28

43

New Jersey

33

42

Maryland

39

41

Map: State Rates 2004
The color-coded map that follows visually depicts state-level variations in female
imprisonment rates.
Roll over each state to view statistics. Click on any state for state-specific female
imprisonment data.

Imprisonment of Women in the United States

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GROWTH IN FEMALE IMPRISONMENT 1977-2004
Sentenced Female Prisoners
At yearend 1977, U.S. prisons housed a total of 11,212 sentenced female prisoners.
At that time, only the federal prison system housed over 1,000 women. Fully half of
the states (25) had female prison populations of less than 100 and four states
housed less than 10 prisoners (Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire and
Vermont).
Although no state had a prison population of over 1,000 women in 1977, by yearend
2004, twenty-seven states housed more than 1,000 female prisoners. Only two
states (Rhode Island and Vermont) maintained female prison populations of under
100 women at yearend 2004 (recall that in 1977 half of the states housed less than
100 female prisoners). Moreover, two of the states that had female prison
populations of under 100 in 1977 had far exceeded the 1,000 female prisoner mark
by 2004. Colorado which housed only 72 female prisoners in 1977, had 1,900 female
prisoners in 2004. Mississippi’s 57 female prisoners in 1977 grew to 1,602 in 2004.
Table 1 presents the actual female prison populations in each state in 2004 and in
1977. The states are sorted based on the total female prisoners in 2004 (from
highest to lowest).
TABLE 1. TOTAL FEMALE PRISONERS BY STATE, 2004 and 1977
Female Prisoners 2004
TOTAL

Female Prisoners 1977

96,125

11,212

Texas

11,408

919

California

10,882

671

Federal

10,207

1,694

Florida

5,660

870

Georgia

3,433

493

Ohio

3,185

577

New York

2,789

512

Illinois

2,750

277

Virginia

2,706

251

Arizona

2,545

187

Missouri

2,503

158

Louisiana

2,386

217

Oklahoma

2,300

172

Michigan

2,113

538

Tennessee

1,905

232

Colorado

1,900

72

Indiana

1,881

130

Pennsylvania

1,820

211

North Carolina

1,758

460

Alabama

1,661

223

Mississippi

1,602

57

New Jersey

1,470

180

Kentucky

1,447

138

South Carolina

1,428

276

Wisconsin

1,310

136

Washington

1,303

226

Maryland

1,124

248

Oregon

981

112

Arkansas

910

91

Nevada

878

65

Connecticut

788

71

Iowa

757

84

Idaho

647

28

Kansas

620

89

New Mexico

546

53

Minnesota

544

75

Utah

502

30

Montana

473

2

West Virginia

444

44

Hawaii

438

14

Massachusetts

376

78

Nebraska

348

73

South Dakota

290

18

Delaware

215

41

Wyoming

210

16

Alaska

174

21

North Dakota

129

2

Maine

120

14

New Hampshire

119

2

Vermont

80

9

Rhode Island

60

13

Female Imprisonment Rates
In 1977, the median imprisonment rate across the states was 7 female prisoners for
every 100,000 female residents. At that time, no state had a female imprisonment
rate of over 20 sentenced female prisoners per 100,000 females in the population.
By 2004, the median imprisonment rate of 55 female prisoners for every 100,000
female residents was more than five times higher than it had been in 1977. Five
states had female imprisonment rates of over 100 female prisoners per 100,000
(Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Montana, and Texas), and only four states
maintained female imprisonment rates of under 20 per 100,000 (Maine, New

Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island).

TABLE 2. FEMALE IMPRISONMENT RATES BY STATE, 2004 and 1977
Female Imprisonment
Rate 2004

Female Imprisonment
Rate 1977

Oklahoma

129

12

Mississippi

107

4

Louisiana

103

11

Montana

102

1

Texas

101

14

Idaho

93

6

Arizona

89

15

Missouri

85

6

Wyoming

84

8

Colorado

83

5

Georgia

77

18

Nevada

77

19

South Dakota

75

5

Alabama

71

11

Virginia

71

9

Hawaii

69

3

Kentucky

69

8

South Carolina

66

18

Arkansas

65

8

Florida

64

19

Tennessee

63

10

California

61

6

Indiana

59

5

New Mexico

56

9

Alaska

55

11

Ohio

54

10

Oregon

54

9

Delaware

51

13

Iowa

50

6

West Virginia

48

4

Wisconsin

47

6

Kansas

45

8

Connecticut

44

4

Illinois

43

5

Utah

42

5

Washington

42

12

Michigan

41

11

North Dakota

41

1

North Carolina

40

16

Maryland

39

11

Nebraska

39

9

New Jersey

33

5

New York

28

5

Pennsylvania

28

3

Vermont

25

4

Minnesota

21

4

Maine

18

2

New Hampshire

18

0

Massachusetts

11

3

Rhode Island

11

3

FEMALE PRISONERS 1999-2004
Over the five year period between 1999-2004, the number of sentenced female
prisoners in the United States increased from 82,402 (in 1999) to 96,125 (in 2004) –
a growth of 17% in just five years. Nine states experienced decreases in the female
prison population with New York and New Jersey experiencing the largest declines in
female prisoners over the period (New York’s female prison population fell from
3,620 female prisoners in 1999 to 2,789 in 2004, a decrease of 23% and New
Jersey’s female prison population fell from 1,862 female prisoners in 1999 to 1,470
in 2004 – a decrease of 21%). The remaining 41 states and the federal prison
system saw increases in their female prison populations. The tables below list the ten
states with the largest increase in actual female prisoners and the ten states with the
largest % change in the female prison population between yearend 1999 and
yearend 2004. The prison population data are yearend data, so the growth actually
represents growth from the end of 1999 through the end of 2004.
LARGEST INCREASES IN FEMALE PRISONERS AND LARGEST GROWTH (%
CHANGE), 1999-2004
Increase in Number of Female
Prisoners, 1999-2004

% Change 1999-2004

Federal

2,151

Maine

114%

Florida

1,840

North Dakota

102%

Texas

1,093

Vermont

95%

Arizona

975

West Virginia

86%

Georgia

836

New Mexico

81%

Virginia

803

Montana

80%

Colorado

687

Oregon

68%

Indiana

662

Idaho

62%

Missouri

616

Arizona

62%

Tennessee

537

Colorado

57%

SMALLEST INCREASES IN FEMALE PRISONERS AND SMALLEST GROWTH (%
CHANGE), 1999-2004
Increase in Number of Female
Prisoners, 1999-2004

% Change 1999-2004

New
Hampshire

2

California

1%

Rhode Island

3

New Hampshire

2%

Alabama

3%

Vermont

39

Alaska

41

Michigan

4%

Kansas

50

Rhode Island

5%

Alabama

53

Louisiana

5%

California
Maine

56
64

Kansas

9%

South Carolina

9%

North Dakota

65

Texas

11%

Wyoming

71

Ohio

12%

DECREASES IN FEMALE PRISONERS AND NEGATIVE GROWTH (% CHANGE),
1999-2004
Decrease in Number of Female
Prisoners, 1999-2004

% Change 1999-2004

New York

-831

New York

-23%

New Jersey

-392

New Jersey

-21%

Wisconsin

-55

Massachusetts

-9%

Illinois

-52

Hawaii

-8%

Massachusetts

-38

Wisconsin

-4%

Hawaii

-36

Connecticut

-3%

Connecticut

-25

Illinois

-2%

Oklahoma

-16

Oklahoma

-1%

Delaware

0%*

Delaware

-1

*Though DE experienced a 1-person decrease from 1999-2004,
this constitutes less than a 1% change.

State Reports
The hyperlinks below will take you to each state's imprisonment analysis.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky

Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota

Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
District of Columbia
Federal

NOTES
Unless otherwise noted, all averages across the states are medians. Averages across
states include only state data (e.g. these averages exclude the federal prison system
and Washington D.C.'s prisoners (where applicable)). The United States average
includes all prisoners (regardless of their classification as a state or federal prisoner).
Federal refers distinctly to prisoners housed in the federal prison system.
Only prison data for inmates sentenced to more than one year were included. The
exclusion of data covering those not sentenced (or those sentenced to less than one
year) allows for the inclusion of the six states that have mixed prison and jail
populations. The six states with mixed prison/jail populations include: Alaska,
Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Rates were calculated per 100,000 population. Gender specific rates used gender
specific population data. Although states appear to have identical imprisonment
rates, their rates are actually slightly different (rates were rounded to the nearest
whole number for ease of presentation). States were ranked based on the actual
values.
All imprisonment data were drawn from Bureau of Justice Statistics datasets and
spreadsheets that rely on National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) and National Corrections
Reporting Program (NCRP) data. For a description of the NPS and NCRP
methodologies and state by state explanatory notes see:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p03.pdf
The primary dataset used in compiling this report was:
Doris James and Paige Harrison (2005). Sentenced female prisoners under State or
Federal jurisdiction. National Prisoner Statistics Data Series (NPS1). (File: corpop37;
date of version: 12/06/2005). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau
of Justice Statistics.
Other imprisonment data were derived from additional BJS reports cited below.
Some of the gender specific data for 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 were compiled for
the author by Paige M. Harrison of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The author would
like to thank Paige Harrison for providing the gender specific data tables.
Imprisonment data are yearend data (e.g. the female prison population in 2004
represents the female prison population on the very last day of 2004). Growth in
female imprisonment from 1999 through 2004 therefore actually represents growth
from 12/31/1999 through 12/31/2004 (e.g. over the first five years of the 21st
century).
DATA SOURCES
Correctional Facilities
James J. Stephan and Jennifer C. Karberg (2003). Census of State and Federal
Correctional Facilities, 2000. (NCJ 198272) U.S. Department of Justice: Bureau of

Justice Statistics. Full report available online:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/csfcf00.pdf
1977-2004 Imprisonment Data
Doris James and Paige Harrison (2005). Sentenced female prisoners under State or
Federal jurisdiction. National Prisoner Statistics Data Series (NPS1). (File: corpop37;
date of version: 12/06/2005). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau
of Justice Statistics.
1999-2002 Imprisonment Data
The gender specific data for 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 were compiled for the
author by Paige M. Harrison of the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck (2004). Prisoners in 2003. (NCJ 205335) U.S.
Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Full report available online:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p03.pdf
Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck (2003). Prisoners in 2002. (NCJ 200248) U.S.
Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Full report available online:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p02.pdf
Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck (2002). Prisoners in 2001. (NCJ 195189) U.S.
Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Full report available online:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p01.pdf
Allen J. Beck and Paige M. Harrison (2001). Prisoners in 2000. (NCJ 188207) U.S.
Department of Justice: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Full report available online:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p00.pdf
Allen J. Beck (2000). Prisoners in 1999. (NCJ 183476) U.S. Department of Justice:
Bureau of Justice Statistics. Full report available online:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/p99.pdf
1977-1998 Imprisonment Data
Paige Harrison (2000). Sentenced female prisoners under State or Federal
jurisdiction. National Prisoner Statistics Data Series (NPS1). (File: corpop37; date of
version, 06/28/00). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice
Statistics.
Paige Harrison (2000). Sentenced male prisoners under State or Federal jurisdiction.
National Prisoner Statistics Data Series (NPS1) – (File: corpop36; date of version,
06/28/00). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice
Statistics.
George Hill and Paige Harrison (2000) Sentenced prisoners under State or Federal
jurisdiction. National Prisoner Statistics Data Series (NPS1) – (File: corpop01; date of

version, 10/26/00). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice
Statistics.
Population Estimates
1977-1999
U.S. Census Bureau (March 2003). United States Department of Commerce, U.S.
Census Bureau, Population Division; Census Data for Public Health Research, CDC
WONDER On-line Database, March 2003.
2000-2004
U.S. Census Bureau (2005) Table 2: Annual Estimates of the Population by Sex and
Age. April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2004 (SC-EST2004-02-54). Source: Population Division,
U.S. Census Bureau. (Release Date: March 2005).

Acknowledgements
The Institute on Women & Criminal Justice wishes to thank some of the individuals
who helped to make this report possible. They include:
Dr. Dina Rose, who was the Director of Research at WPA at the time at which this
report was conceived, and who made major contributions to its initial design
Dawn Wiest and Venezia Michalsen, for their early work in data collection and
shaping of the report;
Nickie D. Phillips, for her work with Dr. Frost to ensure the accuracy and
completeness of the data used in Part II of the report;
Jason Ziedenberg, Executive Director, and Laura Jones, Director of Public Affairs
and Special Projects of the Justice Policy Institute, for the guidance they offered over
the course of producing and releasing this report;
Natalia Kennedy for her assistance in the communications plan for the report;
Keita de Souza and Mickey Lambert for their careful stewardship of the
production of HARD HIT; and
The JEHT Foundation and the Open Society Institute for their generous support
of the Institute on Women & Criminal Justice.
Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the Institute on Women &
Criminal Justice and the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position
or policies of the JEHT Foundation or the Open Society Institute.
HARD HIT: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977 - 2004 designed by
Lynn Riley and Kenneth Wajda of Lynn Riley Design, Inc.

About the Authors
Natasha A. Frost is an Assistant Professor in the College of Criminal Justice at
Northeastern University. She received a B.S. in psychology from Northeastern
University (1997) and a Ph.D. in criminal justice from the City University of New York
(2004). Dr. Frost's primary research interests are in the area of punishment and
social control. She is Associate Editor of Criminology & Public Policy, a peer-reviewed
journal published by the American Society of Criminology.
Judith Greene is a criminal justice policy analyst and principal of Justice Strategies,
a non-profit organization committed to providing high-quality research to advocates
and policymakers in the fields of criminal justice and immigrant detention. A past
Soros Senior Justice Fellow, she served as a research associate for the RAND
Corporation, as a senior research fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School,
and as director of the State-Centered Program for the Edna McConnell Clark
Foundation. From 1985 to 1993 she was Director of Court Programs at the Vera
Institute.
Kevin Pranis is a criminal justice policy analyst, a principal of Justice Strategies,
and a campaign strategist. A past Soros Justice Fellow, Mr. Pranis has produced
educational materials, training manuals, reports, and white papers on topics that
include corporate accountability, municipal bond finance, political education, prison
privatization and sentencing policy. His work has been covered in numerous
publications, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

 

 

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