The Gender Divide: Tracking Women’s State Prison Growth

The Gender Divide: Tracking Women’s State Prison Growth

While criminal justice reforms have helped reduce the total number of people incarcerated in state prisons since 2009, women's prison populations in some states have increased so much as to cancel out any reduction in male prison populations, a report from the Prison Policy Initiative finds. Based on data from all fifty states going back to 1978, the report, The Gender Divide: Tracking Women’s State Prison Growth, found that the prison populations of women nationwide have grown faster than men's since the 1970s — and continued to do so in nineteen states after peaking nationally in 2009, with increases in women's prison populations driving the growth in state prison populations in Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Moreover, in eight states — Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin — women's prison populations have grown since 2009 while male prison populations have fallen. The report calls for more targeted efforts to address the mass incarceration of women, including providing treatment for trauma and mental health issues, healthcare services designed for women's needs, and better support for women re-entering society.