The Sentencing Project has released a new fact sheet titled “Incarcerated Women and Girls” which examines (pre-COVID) female incarceration trends. The following are excerpts:
- Over the past quarter century, there has been a profound change in the involvement of women within the criminal justice system.
This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women. The female incarcerated population stands over seven times higher than in 1980. More than 60% of women in state prisons have a child under the age of 18.
- Between 1980 and 2019, the number of incarcerated women increased by more than 700%, rising from a total of 26,378 in 1980 to 222,455 in 2019….
- Women in state prisons are more likely than men to be incarcerated for a drug or property offense. Twenty-six percent of women in prison have been convicted of a drug offense, compared to 13% of men in prison; 24% of incarcerated women have been convicted of a property crime, compared to 16% among incarcerated men.
- The proportion of imprisoned women convicted of a drug offense has increased from 12% in 1986 to 26% in 2018.