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August 15, 2013

"White women sent to Ohio prisons in record numbers, reports say"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new press report about some notable criminal justice data coming out of the Buckeye State.  Here are the details:

Amanda Lane is the face of Ohio's fastest-growing prison trend. Lane, 28, is white and from rural Pickaway County, where she was convicted of drug charges and sentenced to 18 months in prison. The state's prisons are filling up with people just like her, a surge that has shocked researchers and experts.

White women, many from rural Ohio, are the fastest growing population in Ohio prisons. In fact, they made up 80 percent of the female felons sentenced to prison between June 30, 2012, and July 1, or fiscal year 2013, according to state records.

Compare that to fiscal year 2003, when white women sentenced to prison made up 55 percent of females in prison. In 1998, they made up 43 percent, according to state records.

On June 1, there were 3,974 female inmates in Ohio prisons; 2,962 were white, or nearly 75 percent. Nationally, the numbers of white women sentenced to prison rose 48 percent from 2000 to 2009, according to the Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "It's a major shift," said Steve Van Dine, chief of the bureau of research for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, speaking about the trend here. "It's rather dramatic."

Researchers say it is clear where many of the the numbers are coming from: rural Ohio. "That's the thing that jumped out at me," said James Austin, a national researcher who studied women in Ohio prisons through a grant from the U.S. Justice Department. "The numbers weren't coming from Cleveland or Columbus, but from predominantly white, rural counties."...

In the men, the percentages have changed, as the number of whites sentenced to prison has grown. In June, there are 22,880 white men in prison, while there are 21,864 black men. But those numbers are not as dramatic as the shifts seen in women felons.

"I tend to believe that judges in the more rural counties tend to sentence people more harshly," said Mike Huff, a former assistant Athens County prosecutor who now handles criminal defense work. "In rural counties, it is a big deal when someone gets caught making methamphetamine or selling drugs. People talk about it. They don't want that stuff around. Small newspapers and radio stations report it. It's big news, and judges realize that."

In a 2006 report for Ohio prisons, Austin found that "the increase in admissions has been largely limited to white females who tend to come from the more rural and suburban areas of the state. Compared to males, female admissions tend to be more white, older convicted of a non-violent crime, have short sentences (and) no prior incarcerations."...

Austin's report said one of the key reasons for the growth of white women in prison is that smaller, rural counties have a limited number of community-based programs for women, meaning judges have few programming options in sentencings. "In smaller counties, there are, generally, fewer programs for women," Austin said in an interview.

August 15, 2013 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

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The real take away from all of this:

"Researchers say it is clear where many of the the numbers are coming from: rural Ohio. "That's the thing that jumped out at me," said James Austin, a national researcher who studied women in Ohio prisons through a grant from the U.S. Justice Department. "The numbers weren't coming from Cleveland or Columbus, but from predominantly white, rural counties."..."

""I tend to believe that judges in the more rural counties tend to sentence people more harshly," said Mike Huff, a former assistant Athens County prosecutor who now handles criminal defense work. "In rural counties, it is a big deal when someone gets caught making methamphetamine or selling drugs. People talk about it. They don't want that stuff around. Small newspapers and radio stations report it. It's big news, and judges realize that."

It always amazes me how liberals can make an argument on one topic and then completely refute their own allegation when discussing topic B.

America is racist! The mean old legislators, judges, prosecutors, and police are all looking to get the minority criminal and throw away the key. It is the main focus of incarceration nation, don't you know, and why African-American males are so disproportionately represented in our prisons

Oh, wait a minute. This article, focusing on rural white women, says that RURAL judges sentence more harshly and have fewer "community based" sentencing options. In other words, despite more lenient judges and more sentencing options that do not include prison time, African-American men STILL cannot keep themselves out of prison in huge numbers. As this article exposes, it is not racism but conduct that gets prison time and it is actually HARDER to get prison time in traditional minority neighborhoods.

All you libs need to get together and get your stories straight. We would hate for this truth to come out.

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Aug 15, 2013 12:54:28 PM

Not sure what numbers Austin was using, but the last published numbers (2009) from my state show the following:

Urban Counties -- 69% probation; 9% confined treatment programs (4-12 months); 22% prison.
Suburban Counties -- 60% probation; 10% confined treatment; 30% prison.
Rural Counties -- 62% probation; 13% confined treatment; 25% prison.

With the exception of violent crimes (in which rural areas were most likely to give probation), this breakdown (not the percentages but the rankings) were pretty consistent across class of crimes.

Posted by: tmm | Aug 15, 2013 1:00:08 PM

"how liberals"

Better knee-jerk ideological attacks, please.

The comment says "conduct" gets prison time. According to the OP:

"Austin's report said one of the key reasons for the growth of white women in prison is that smaller, rural counties have a limited number of community-based programs for women, meaning judges have few programming options in sentencings."

so, "conduct" isn't the only thing at issue here, but sentencing options available (how strange ... at a sentencing blog!). This actually fits right in to the "liberal" or any (e.g., libertarians) critic of the criminal justice system. If there were more options, there might be less of a need to having growing prison populations.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 15, 2013 1:10:24 PM

but! but!

"more sentencing options that do not include prison time, African-American men STILL cannot keep themselves out of prison in huge numbers"

The OP notes the shift in numbers are more "dramatic" for women. Also, the article notes "white women" in particular are affected. This shows that various things can affect racial numbers in prisons, not just for black men. The "liberal" or whatever (e.g., libertarian) analysis repeatedly accepts such things. It is not just about black men getting the shaft. It is that class, race, sex and other things factor into things, not just "conduct" alone.

Also, men as a whole, not just black men, are in prison in numbers much higher than women. That's not really in dispute, to my understanding. The reason why men, including white women, commit more crimes are diverse. And, "liberals" and others are well aware of such numbers and have various arguments on why it is so. I don't see the hypocrisy myself.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 15, 2013 1:16:27 PM

"White women sent to Ohio prisons in record numbers, reports say"

Welcome to the dark side of Women's Lib.

Were we under the impression that women's lives outside the home could become more like men's without their crime rate becoming more like men's?

Is this supposed to be a big revelation?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 15, 2013 3:10:56 PM

A cynic would say the percentage of White imprisonment is up because the Black urban population is already in prison. But 80% from rural counties is a tough number. It isn't clear whether this is from more rural White women being sentenced, or fewer urban women being sentenced. There may be more "programs" in urban areas, although I am not sure why, but what the numbers of arrests compared to imprisonment versus diversion?

Posted by: Brian | Aug 15, 2013 9:45:53 PM

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