You may have heard the recent news about the over 140 women who have been sterilized while incarcerated in California prisons. What we realized when we heard this news, is that we know very little about the state of jailed women in the United States.
It’s not a topic you hear much about, and we were shocked at what we learned from the informative Brave New Films short film about the growing number of U.S. women in prisons.
These are some of the harsh realities:
- The U.S. has the largest incarcerated population in the world, and has more women in prison than any other country on earth
- Between 1980-2010, the U.S. female prison population grew by 645%, nearly 2x the rate of men
- As of 2010, more than 1 million women were under the supervision of the criminal justice system
- 1 in 10 women are pregnant when in prison
- 70% of incarcerated women are the primary caregivers for their families
- Children of incarcerated parents are 5x more likely to commit crimes
- Racial and ethnic factors are significant. The rate for black women in the U.S. is 149 per 100,000 compared to 75 for Hispanic women, and 50 for white women.
- Women in prison are more likely than are men to be victims of staff sexual misconduct. More than three-quarters of all reported staff sexual misconduct involves women who were victimized by male correctional staff.