Prison population in most states has been going down in the last years. However, resent research shows that the number of incarcerated women is dropping slower than that of men.
The Rates of Incarcerated Women Needs Addressing
The study was conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative. It shows that for the past 10 years states have worked towards reducing their overall prison population. They have however been oblivious to the rate of incarcerated women which has just remained the same.
Wendy Sawyer, the study’s author, gives a reason to this issue. She says that women in prison may receive harsher punishments for rule violations than men with similar infractions. This leads to an extension in sentencing for the women.
Sawyer says that these women need more of treatment or services rather than punishments. This is because they have been incarcerated for offences like:
- Mental health problems
- Substance abuse issues
- Physical and/or sexual abuse
Challenges Faced By Incarcerated Women
Most incarcerated women in state prisons are the primary caretakers of their children. They already have to start out their new lives with their children having economic difficulties. This will have a greater effect of marginalization on these women and their families.
Wendy Sawyer suggests on using the following steps as ways to further reduce women incarceration.
- Diversion strategies
- Decriminalizing offenses that do not threaten public safety
- Increasing the funding for indignant defenses
She argues that developing alternatives to incarceration that are less harmful to women should be an urgent priority in every state. They should all stop focusing on male prisons only.
Ignoring what is happening in women’s state prisons goes against a state’s efforts to decarcerate its prisons.