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Women in Prison: Comparing the U.S. and Britain
NIC News & Updates


Although the number of women in the prison systems are different, the issues surrounding incarcerated women in both the U.S. and Britain have many similarities. Highlighting those similarities are two reports: Ten Truths that Matter when Working with Justice Involved Women by the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women and Women in prison: the cycle of violence by the British Open Democracy.  Several key points from the reports are outlined in the chart below.


United States


Prison Population



Type of Offense Typically commit non-violent crimes 81% committed non-violent offenses
Risk Women pose a lower public safety risk than men Many women offenders do not pose a significant risk of harm to public safety
Drug Use 60% drug dependence or abuse in year prior to incarceration 68% drug use at time committed
Physical or Sexual Violence Nearly 6 in 10 women in state prisons had experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past and 69% reported that the assault occurred before age 18** 53% have experienced childhood abuse and one third are victims of sexual abuse
Financial and Education Economic hardship, lower education, employment instability Families are financially and socially excluded
Reasons for Committing Crime Meet needs of children or demonstrate loyalty to significant other Commit crime because of their vulnerability
Prison System Traditional criminal justice policies and practices have largely been developed through the lens of managing men Changes to the justice system had been designed purely with men in mind and women in prison had been ‘ignored’

* E. Ann Carson, Prisoners in 2013, Bureau of Justice Statistics

** Lawrence A. Greenfeld and Tracy L. Snell, Women Offenders, December 1999, Bureau of Justice Statistics


This announcement is available at NIC's Gender-Responsive News for Women and Girls.  Feel free to forward to friends and colleagues.  Subscribe to the newsletter at

For additional resources on Justice-Involved Women go to NIC’s Women Offenders.

Posted Tue, Dec 9 2014 7:37 AM by Susan Powell
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