Women held in local jails represent the fastest growing population of incarcerated people in the US, according to a new study. The researchers found that trauma, sexual violence and mental health issues were all closely wrapped up with the swelling numbers.
“While we started to see a decline in the incarceration and jailing of men, we haven’t seen a comparable kind of trend for women,” said Laurie Garduque, director of Justice Reform for the MacArthur Foundation, which co-published the report with the Vera Institute. Since 1970, the number of women in US jails has increased by 14 times, far outstripping the growth in the male prison population, even though in raw numbers there remain many more men locked up.
The majority of those women entering jail are black and Hispanic, mirroring demographic trends that cross gender lines. Women, however, tend to enter jails in more vulnerable situations than men, as a higher percentage of women in jail were using drugs, unemployed or receiving public assistance at the time they were arrested.