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June 7, 2014

Detailing how many more women have come to discover "Orange is the New Black"

WomenstateTo really appreciate the popular NetFlix show "Orange is the New Black," everyone should read and reflect on the data on modern female incarceration usefully assembled in this recent Fusion piece headlined "The Real Life Stats Behind Women in Prison and ‘Orange is the New Black’." Here are the data (with sources, emphasis and links included):

The series "Orange is the New Black" is based on a true experience that follows women in prison, which is one of the fastest growing prison populations.  So, it’s only appropriate [with] the premiere of the second season of "Orange is the New Black" we look at some of the numbers of women in prison.

The number of women in prison increased by 646 percent between 1980 and 2010, rising from 15,118 to 112,797. If we include local jails, more than 205,000 women are now incarcerated. The female prison population is increasing at nearly double the rate for men. (The Sentencing Project-PDF)

Two thirds of women in prison are there for non-violent offenses, many for drug related crimes. (Women’s Prison Association - PDF)

Oklahoma is the greatest incarcerator of women. Oklahoma incarcerates more women per capita than any other state with 130 out of every 100,000 women in prison. Massachusetts has the lowest rate of female imprisonment at 13 per 100,000 women. (Women’s Prison Association - PDF)

1 in 25 women in state prisons and 1 in 33 in federal prisons are pregnant when admitted to prison. Women can be shackled during labor in at least 32 states. The majority of children born to incarcerated mothers are immediately separated from their mothers. (The Sentencing Project-PDF)

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.(The Sentencing Project-PDF)

Black women represent 30 percent of all incarcerated women in the U.S, although they represent 13 percent of the female population generally.

Latinas represent 16 percent of incarcerated women, although they make up only 11 percent of all women in the U.S. (ACLU)

Transgender inmates are almost always housed according to their birth gender. The two most common responses are housing transgender prisoners on the basis of their birth gender or placing them in isolation. (American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law)

June 7, 2014 at 01:39 PM | Permalink


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A few thoughts on the above stats:

Although the show does a very good job showing some realities of federal prison, it lacks in some respects. Regardless, season two is quite good and worth a watch. Maybe don't binge-watch it like I did this last weekend though...

Posted by: Eric | Jun 9, 2014 10:24:49 AM

Would someone edify us and explain why the huge numbers of incarcerated women? I haven't read much of the role of women in the rampant crime waves
of the 1960s and '70s, so how does the 10-fold increase in their numbers
make society safer?

Posted by: Bill K | Jun 9, 2014 1:18:11 PM

Well compared to men, women are imprisoned at a much less rate, what I would like to see is any statistics on the harsher sentences given to men
for the same crime, I of course agree we over-criminalize, I doubt many woman would get pregnant to commit a crime especially since many would be concerned about the safety of the child or commit a crime regardless, unless there was a clear trend or law regarding sentencing while pregnant,.

Posted by: Alex | Jun 10, 2014 1:04:58 PM

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