The United States continues to incarcerate more people than any country on Earth and now the nation has recorded the highest rate of incarceration for women in the world. In the United States, 2.2 million people remain behind bars. On average states spend close to $30,000 a year for each person who is incarcerated. The federal government alone spent $6.5 billion on incarcerated prisoners in 2013, nearly twice what was spent in 2000.
In a compelling graphic prepared by Boston University’s Master in Criminal Justice Program, shown below, the shockingly high rate of women incarcerated in the United States is highlighted. The percentage of women sent to prison over the last 30 years has increased 646 percent. The United States has more than twice the number of women in jails and prisons than are incarcerated in China, Russia, Brazil, or any other nation.
Today the rate of incarceration for women is at an all-time high. Black women are three times more likely to be incarcerated than white women. Hispanic women are twice as likely to be jailed or imprisoned as white women. Racial disparities among the rates of incarceration of women reflect the huge racial disparities that also exist in the incarceration of men and children in America.
EJI believes that massive sentencing reform is needed in the United States and that hundreds of thousands of people who are presently incarcerated should be released because they pose no threat to public safety and there are more effective ways to respond to their drug and low-level property offenses.