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Rebecca McCray – There Are More Women in U.S. Jails Than Ever Before

An unusual thing happened last year: The number of people in U.S. prisons declined. After decades of exponential growth, both the state and federal prison populations dropped slightly, reflecting the steady embrace of policy reforms enacted over the last decade intended to curtail corrections costs.

Yet as prison populations in many states have declined, the number of women in jails has skyrocketed. Since 1970, the female jail population has increased 14 times, surging from under 8,000 to nearly 110,000, according to a report released Wednesday from the Vera Institute of Justice and the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.

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