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Women: Hard Hit

stalvis Icon Posted by Silja J.A. Talvi

June 19th, 2006

For those of you concerned with the plight of women behind bars, I want to draw your attention to a particularly important report that the mainstream national press paid far too little attention to. (I was happy to see more localized coverage, however, which is one of the reasons why the nation’s wide assortment of regional papers DO matter so much.)

Hard Hit: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004, is a groundbreaking research study conducted by the Women’s Prison Association (WPA). Before the WPA’s report, no organization had truly done a state-by-state analysis of the dramatic growth in women’s incarceration. From 1977-2004, we’re talking about a 757% increase in the number of women in prison.

“From the taxpayer’s perspective, the price of incarcerating women is not limited to the cost of the prison cell and three meals a day,” as the authors explain. “Locking up women also means paying the tab for putting their children in foster care, treating health and mental health conditions that have worsened during incarceration, and providing public assistance and shelter for those who are homeless and destitute upon release.”

As a society, we can no longer continue to ignore what’s happening. This is already a situation far out of hand. We *cannot* afford to keep ignoring all of it. Mass incarceration (of women, men and children alike) isn’t just inhumane, it’s going to cost us our society a healthier, brighter future.

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