Women in Prison
Since 1997, the number of women in prison has increased by a whopping 757 percent. Women are the fastest growing segment of the prison system, surpassing men in all 50 states.
Over the past 15 years, the number of women prisoners in California doubled to approximately 11,681. Last year alone, the number was up by eight percent.
The majority of those women have survived domestic violence and 80 percent are mothers. Because 1 in 10 of the state's female inmates is pregnant, a new baby is born in prison on an almost daily basis.
The population of mothers in prison has drastically increased since the 80s, largely due to tougher sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes. Because the number of women having babies in prison is also increasing, California officials are preparing to open the state's first prison nursery. Shouldn't this be causing us to question what this says about us as a society? Do we really want children being raised behind bars?
It's time to have a discussion about why so many women and mothers are behind bars in the first place, and recognize the fact that female prisoners have different needs than male prisoners. It's highly unlikely than any politician will honestly tackle this issue during an election year for fear of being labeled "soft on crime."