According to reports, the number of women in jail increased after the 1970's, and they are more likely to be poor and women of color
The rise in the population of incarcerated women in the US is at an alarming rate. The study shows that majority of the women in jail are either poor or people of color and the number of them has sprung up much faster than that of men. “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 significantly increased by 14 times and 80 percent of them are single mothers, unemployed women, and drug users.
A majority of these women have serious mental illness and suffer from trauma: 86 percent of incarcerated women reported experiencing sexual assault in jail, which is a common thread for women who are in the criminal justice system.
Jail, of course, is the wrong place for people who suffer from mental illness and trauma. The experience could be arduous for women as jails were not structured with their peculiar needs taken into consideration. Women in jail really suffer from lack of basic needs, such as a decent provision of health care for ill and pregnant women and adequate supply of menstrual products.
The system should make jails the last resort for women who are seen to be a danger to the society, as most of the them who are incarcerated have been charged with nonviolent property and drug crimes, and public order offenses. Jails shouldn’t be makeshift providers of help for women who have mental health problems and use drugs; there are mental institutions and social services and they should provide help for those people.
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