Women Behind Bars TV Series
Recidivism in the US Women in Prisons

Women Behind Bars: Drug Addiction & Lack of Resources Perpetuate Recidivism Cycle

Women Behind Bars is a prison TV series that reveals drugs is the main reason ladies return back to jail over and over again. Without resources or drug programs to help them, the cycle continues.

Inmate Krystle Sweat blowing a kiss to her son over a video call visit.
Despite their happy visits, both Krystle Sweat (Right) and her son (Left) desire to be physically reunited once again.
Image Source: Clarion Ledger

A lifetime of drug dependency keeps sending thousands of American women back to jails. Many of these incarcerated women have cycled in and out of jails several times, thanks to an exploding opioid crisis in the US.

While many of these women detest prison life, they also fear release because they know their weakness for drugs. Relapsing into their life of drugs will surely land them back in an endless cycle of incarceration and recidivism.

Women Behind Bars: Life of Drugs Is to Blame

Krystle Sweat, 33, has been in and out of prison on drug-related charges more than she can count. In fact, she has been arrested over 12 times for offenses born out of her drug dependency.

Her drug habit costs $300 per day to cover her pain pill addictions. Sweat is not allowed to have physical contact with her 10-year-old son Robby when he comes to visit.

Sweat says regretfully:

I don’t want to continue living like this. I want to be someone my family can count on.

A female inmate in a dark cell looking from of a barred window on a sunny day.
Addiction is a cycle that can only be broken with proper treatment, not pacifying. Image Source: Slate

Sarai Keelean is another drug addict who has been jailed eight times within six years. When she would get released on probation, she ended up violating her probation for using and selling drugs.

Many times, she had to sell meth to use the proceeds for her opioid addiction. Keelean has remained incarcerated for three years now, but she’d prefer to remain in prison.

Without support, and returning to the environment that lead to her addiction, she fears she will quickly relapse upon release.

Keelean’s mother visited her one Christmas, and they spent time weeping together. The woman inmate’s mother is also a drug addict and had once had a brush with law enforcement for a driving offense.

Thirty-year-old Blanche Ball has used, cooked or sold meth for 15 years of her life. She’s been in and out of jail for as long as she can remember.

According to Ball, she has dealt with drugs for so long, she does not know how her life can be lived without them.

Women Behind Bars TV Series
Image Source: New On Netflix

Women Behind Bars: Drugs to Blame for Their Incarceration Woes

Campbell County, Tennessee, with its 40,000 residents, is reputed to have the highest amount of opioids prescribed to individuals than anywhere else in the United States.

Mayor E.L Morton of Campbell County puts the blame on the doctors prescribing opioids, as well as the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the drugs. Morton thinks it is ironic that the pharmaceutical industry who should be responsible for protecting the health of the people are the ones destroying them.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that drugs are the main reason women prison population is rising in America:

  • The number of incarcerated women in 1980 was 13,258, but rose to 102,300 in 2016
  • The number of female prisoners in 1970 was 5,600 but jumped to over 110,000 in 2016
Women Behind Bars Episode 1: Stacey and Charaty
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America’s prisons lack funding to handle the explosion of mass incarceration or the resources to deal with the drug problems within the facilities. So it’s no wonder they get released and go right back to their lives of drugs.

Most of these women blame wrong choices for their predicament. They say they wrongfully chose drugs over their children, careers and families and became hooked to the point of becoming jailbirds.

Many women behind bars are destined to repeat the cycle of incarceration without any programs to help with their drug addictions. They have no professional support when they return to the lives outside where they created the addictions in the first place.

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Charles Omedo
Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.