When you think of the stereotypical inmate, perhaps just from watching television shows, do you imagine a man? You may be clinging to a stereotype that is quickly becoming outdated. Studies have shown that the rate at which women find themselves behind bars is soaring, and it has been for decades.
If you compare the statistics from today to those from the 1970s, you will find that there are 14 times as many women in jail now. Fourteen. Just two times would mean that the number of women in jail doubled, which would be a stunning increase, but it’s fourteen times as high.
Why has this happened? To some degree, it is just because everyone is getting locked up more often. The male jail population has also increased. Sentences are often harsher than they were before, especially when it comes to drug crime.
It’s also important to note that this phenomenon is limited to jails, not prisons. Why is that important? It has to do with the types of offenses that women get charged with.
“Women have consistently been charged with lower-level, nonviolent offenses,” said the co-author of the study. “As criminal justice agencies have come to place greater emphasis on those types of offenses, women have become swept up into the system to a greater extent….While the number of women in prison has begun to decrease, the number of women in jails has continued to increase.”
Trends like this help to show why it is so important for everyone to know their criminal defense options after an arrest, regardless of gender or the severity of the crime.