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March 5, 2017

"Women in Prison: Should they be treated differently from men?"

The title of this post is the title of a lengthy new examination of the incarceration rates of women in recent years just published here by the CQ Researcher, which seeks to provide "in-depth reporting on issues in the news." The full report requires a subscription, but here is the preview via the CQ Researcher website:

The number of women in state and federal prisons has surged since 1978 by nearly 800 percent — twice the growth rate for men.  Mandatory sentences for drug offenses enacted during the 1980s and 1990s have hit women particularly hard, many experts say.  But some prosecutors and Republicans dispute the claim that the so-called war on drugs has disproportionately hurt women.  They say mandatory sentencing has reduced crime, helped break up drug rings and ended sentencing disparities.

Reformers hope states' recent efforts to reduce prison populations and spend more on drug treatment will help women. But they say women still remain an afterthought in the penal system.  For example, reformers say courts and prisons rarely recognize women's responsibility as mothers or the factors underlying their participation in crime, such as domestic abuse.  The justice system, women's advocates say, needs to think creatively about how to help female prisoners.  Meanwhile, in the juvenile system, girls often receive harsher punishments than boys who commit similar offenses.

March 5, 2017 at 06:23 PM | Permalink


I have a friend who received the 5 year maximum sentence (in Ky.) some years ago for her first offense (at age 27), possession of cocaine. She was pregnant at the time, and had to give her baby up for adoption, as her family would not pick the child up and care for it until her release. She was paroled after 16 months, and then spent 2 more years in a specialized Lexington halfway house for women. After she was returned to prison from the hospital where she had delivered her baby by C-section, the prison nurses took her narcotics for themselves and left her with no pain meds after major surgery. She became depressed and suicidal. 18 years later, she has never gotten over what was done to her by the criminal justice system. She plainly would have been better of being diverted into a treatment program where she could also have kept her baby daughter. The Lexington halfway house to which she was eventually paroled takes mothers with babies and small children, but the Ky. women's prison at Peewee Valley does not.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Mar 5, 2017 6:37:21 PM

When I think of the children I think of the benefit of separating them from criminal parents of both sexes.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Mar 5, 2017 8:30:52 PM

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