In a recent story for Public Radio International reporter Marco Werman sited a shocking Bureau of Justice statistic that since 1978 the number of women in state prisons across this country has increased more than 800%. 800%! That rate is more than double that of men during the same period. It is also not a complete picture. This number doesn’t include women in county jails, immigration facilities, or those in jail awaiting trial. It’s reasonable to assume that if we had those numbers, the percentage would be even higher.
While the number of women in prison is steadily increasing globally, the United States incarcerates more women than any other country in the world. Why?
The biggest factor is the war on drugs, spurred on by the opioid epidemic. Most of these women are users or addicts, not dealers, and many are in jail for minor possession charges.
But here’s the big question; the opioid epidemic is not a woman’s problem, it’s everybody’s problem. Drugs don’t discriminate based on gender, so why is our legal system? What does it say about our society that our legal system is judging women more harshly than men? And what happens to children and elderly parents when women go to jail?
Look for more on this topic as The Woman’s Report continues to explore this issue. And PLEASE look for the women candidates running in the upcoming mid-term elections and do what you can to support them. Then get out and vote on November 6th!