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Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform
NIC News & Updates


Women and JailsRecently released from the Vera Institute of Justice:

The number of women in jail—most of them mothers—is growing faster than any other group behind bars, but has largely been overlooked from reform efforts, a new report released from the Vera Institute of Justice and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge reveals. The number of women in jail in the U.S. has grown 14-fold since 1970 and continues to rise, even as the number of men in jail has begun to decline. Amid increasing national attention to the overuse of local jails as a driver of mass incarceration, this report takes stock of what we do know about women in jail in order to begin to reframe the conversation to include them. It found that the experiences women have in jail can exacerbate the problems that contributed to their incarceration in the first place—trauma, mental illness, single-parenthood, and poverty—and that more research is needed in order to understand what interventions work to set women on a better path. For more, watch a video about the report's findings.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Small counties are driving the growth of the number of women in jail—with numbers increasing 31-fold between 1970 and 2014. 
  • Women often become involved with the justice system as a result of efforts to cope with life challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and significant physical or behavioral health struggles. Most are jailed for low-level, nonviolent offenses.
  • Once incarcerated, women must grapple with systems designed primarily for men. As a result, many leave jail with diminished prospects for physical and behavioral health recovery, as well as greater parental stress and financial instability.

Access the full report


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, Aug 23 2016 7:45 AM by Susan Powell


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