[Pnews] Women's Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 19 16:40:54 EDT 2017


  Women's Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017


By Aleks Kajstura <https://www.prisonpolicy.org/staff.html#kajstura>
October 19, 2017

With growing public attention to the problem of mass incarceration, 
people want to know about women’s experience with incarceration. How 
many women are held in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities 
in the United States? And why are they there? While these are important 
questions, finding those answers requires not only disentangling the 
country’s decentralized and overlapping criminal justice systems, but 
also unearthing the frustratingly hard to find and often altogether 
missing data on gender.

This report provides a first-of-its-kind detailed view of the 219,000 
women incarcerated in the United States, and how they fit into the even 
larger picture of correctional control. Since 2014, the Prison Policy 
Initiative has quantified the number of people incarcerated in the 
United States, and calculated the breakdown of people held by each 
correctional system by offense in an annual Whole Pie: Mass 
Incarceration <https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html> 
report. This report, done in collaboration with the ACLU’s Campaign for 
Smart Justice, finally provides similar data on women incarcerated in 
the Unites States. We break the data down to show the various 
correctional systems that control women, and to examine /why/ women in 
the various systems of confinement are locked up:

pie chart showing the number of women locked up on a given day in the 
United States by facility type and the underlying offense using the 
newest data available in 2017

In stark contrast to the total incarcerated population, where the state 
prison systems hold twice as many people as are held in jails, 
/incarcerated women are nearly evenly split between state prisons and 
local jails/.

The explanation for exactly what happened, when, and why does not yet 
exist because the data on women has long been obscured by the larger 
picture of men’s incarceration. The disaggregated numbers presented here 
are an important first step to ensuring that women are not left behind 
in the effort to end mass incarceration.

    Women are disproportionately stuck in jails

A staggering number of women who are incarcerated are not even 
convicted: more than a quarter of women who are behind bars have not yet 
had a trial. /Moreover, 60% of women in jail have not been convicted of 
a crime and are awaiting trial./

Avoiding pre-trial incarceration is uniquely challenging for women. The 
number of unconvicted women stuck in jail is surely not because courts 
are considering women, who are generally the primary caregivers of 
children <https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/05/08/mothers-day/>, to 
be a flight risk. The far more likely answer is that incarcerated women, 
who have lower incomes than incarcerated men, have an even harder time 
affording cash bail. A previous study found 
<https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/incomejails.html> that women who 
could not make bail had an annual median income of just $11,071. And 
among those women, Black women had a median annual income of only $9,083 
(just 20% that of a white non-incarcerated man). When the typical 
$10,000 bail amounts to a full year’s income, it’s no wonder that women 
are stuck in jail awaiting trial.

Even once convicted, the system funnels women into jails: About a 
quarter of convicted incarcerated women are held in jails, compared to 
about 10% of all people incarcerated with a conviction.

So what does it mean that large numbers of women are held in jail - for 
them, and for their families? While stays in jail are generally shorter 
than in stays in prison, jails make it harder to stay in touch with 
family than prisons do. Phone calls are more expensive, up to $1.50 per 
minute <https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/01/19/intrastate/>, and 
other forms of communication are more restricted - some jails don’t even 
allow real letters, limiting mail to postcards 
<https://www.prisonpolicy.org/postcards/>. This is especially troubling 
given that 80% of women in jails are mothers 
<https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2017/05/08/mothers-day/>, and most of 
them are primary caretakers of their children. Thus children are 
particularly susceptible to the domino effect of burdens 
placed on incarcerated women.

Women in jails are also more likely to suffer from mental health 
problems and experience serious psychological distress than either women 
in prisons or men in either correctional setting.

    Ending mass incarceration requires looking at all offenses

The numbers revealed by this report enable a national conversation about 
the policies that impact incarcerated women held in various facilities, 
and also serve as the foundation for discussions to change the policies 
that lead to incarcerating women in the first place.

All too often, the conversation about criminal justice reform starts and 
stops with the question of non-violent drug and property offenses. While 
drug and property offenses make up more than half of the offenses for 
which women are incarcerated, the chart reveals that all offenses, 
including violent offenses that account for roughly a quarter of all 
incarcerated women, must be considered in the effort to reduce the 
number of incarcerated women in this country. This new data on women 
underlines the need for reform discussions to focus not just on the 
easier choices but on choices that can lead to impactful policy changes.

    The tentacles of mass incarceration have a long reach

Even the “Whole Pie” of incarceration above represents just one small 
portion (16%) of the women under correctional supervision. Again, this 
is in stark contrast to the general incarcerated population (mostly 
men), where a full third of those under correctional control are in 
prisons and jails.

pie chart showing that women in correctional facilities make up only 16% 
of the women under correctional control in the United States. Most (75%) 
are on probation. The remainder are on paroleThree out of four women 
under control of the correctional systems are on probation. Probation is 
often billed as an alternative to incarceration, but instead it is 
frequently set with unrealistic conditions that undermine its goal of 
keeping people from being locked up. For example, probation often comes 
with steep fees, which, like bail, women are in the worst position to 
afford. Failing to pay these probation fees is often a violation of 
probation. Childcare duties further complicate probation requirements 
that might require meetings with probation officers, with no extra money 
to spend on babysitters or reliable fast transportation across town. All 
of these issues make women particularly vulnerable to being incarcerated 
not because they commit crimes, but because they ran afoul of one of the 
burdensome obligations of their probation supervision.

The picture of women’s incarceration is far from complete, and many 
questions remain about mass incarceration’s unique impact on women. 
Based on our analysis in this report we know that a quarter of 
incarcerated women are unconvicted. But is that number growing? And how 
does that undue incarceration load intersect with women’s 
disproportionate caregiving burdens to impact families? Beyond these big 
picture questions there are a plethora of detailed data points that are 
not reported for women by any government agencies, such as the simple 
number of women incarcerated in U.S. Territories.

While more data is needed, the data in this report lends focus and 
perspective to the policy changes needed to end mass incarceration 
without leaving women behind.

    Read about the data

This briefing uses the most recent data available on the number of 
people in various types of facilities and the most significant charge or 
conviction. Because not all types of data are collected each year, we 
sometimes had to combine differing data sets; for example, we applied 
the percentage distribution of offense types from the previous year to 
the current year’s total count data. To smooth out these differing 
levels of vintage and precision among the sources, we choose to round 
all figures in the graphic. This process may, however, result in various 
parts not adding up precisely to the total.

  * *Jails:* Calculated based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Jail
    Inmates in 2015 <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ji15.pdf>,
    Table 3 (average of yearend 2014 and midyear 2015). The Bureau of
    Justice Statistics has stopped collecting data on the conviction
    status of women in jails in 2009, so we calculated the breakdown
    based on 2009 data published in the Jail Inmates at Midyear 2013 -
    Statistical Tables
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/jim13st.pdf>. Our analysis of
    offense types is based on the Survey Of Inmates In Local Jails, 2002
    <https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=274>. See below
    <#jailadjust> and Who is in jail? Deep dive
    for why we used our own analysis rather than the otherwise excellent
    Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis of the same dataset, Profiles
    of Jail Inmates, 2002
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/pji02.pdf>. While this
    methodology section illustrates the pervasive dearth of women’s
    criminal justice data, this 2002 data continues to be the most
    recent data available of its kind without regard to gender
    breakdown, until the Bureau of Justice Statistics begins
    administering the next Survey of Inmates in Local Jails in 2018
  * *Immigration detention:* Calculated based on the United States
    Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Requesters,
    Immigration Detention: Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS
    Efforts to Address Sexual Abuse
    <http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659145.pdf>, which reports that women
    made up 9% of the 2012 fiscal year detainee population, and the
    total number of detainees (41,000) comes from page 7 of Report of
    the Subcommittee on Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities
    December 1, 2016, by the Homeland Security Advisory Council. In
    November 2016, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it
    was seeking additional (but unspecified) incarceration capacity
    so this 41,000 number has likely already grown. The impact of the
    current administration’s increased ICE activities on the total
    population, let alone women, is not yet known.
  * *Federal:* Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2015
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p15.pdf>, Table 10, reports
    percentage breakdown of offense types for the convicted population
    as of September 30, 2015, and the total population of women reported
    in Table 2, for December 31, 2015. We did not attempt to separate
    out convicted and unconvicted from the federal slice of the pie and
    instead proportionally applied the offenses for the convicted
    population to the unconvicted population.
  * *State Prisons:* Prisoners in 2015
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p15.pdf>, Table 2 provides the
    gender breakdown for the total population as of December 31st, 2015,
    and Table 9 provides data (as of December 31, 2014) that we used to
    calculate the ratio of different offense types.
  * *Military:* The latest gender breakdown we could find was in
    Correctional Populations in the United States, 1998
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpus98.pdf>, Table 8.5, which
    reported the number of prisoners under military jurisdiction, by
    officer and enlisted status, gender, race, and Hispanic origin, for
    December 31, 1998. We calculated the number of women for our
    military slice by imputing the percentages from 1998 to the numbers
    reported in Prisoners in 2015
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p15.pdf>, Appendix Table 7,
    which gives the number of people incarcerated in by each branch of
    the military, but does not provide a gender breakdown.
  * *Territorial Prisons* (correctional facilities in the U.S.
    Territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands,
    and U.S. Commonwealths of Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico):
    Calculated based on World Prison Brief
    <http://www.prisonstudies.org/world-prison-brief-data> data
    reporting the most recent data available, ranging from 2007
    (Northern Mariana Islands) to 2015 (Puerto Rico).
  * *Youth:* Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Easy
    Access to the Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement
    reporting data for 2015. To keep things comparable with the other
    parts of the pie, we choose to include only those youth in detention
    centers, long-term secure facilities, and reception/diagnostic
    centers. We did not include other placements outside the home.
  * *Civil Commitment* (At least 20 states and the federal government
    operate facilities for the purposes of detaining people convicted of
    sexual crimes after their sentences are complete. These facilities
    and the confinement there are technically civil, but in reality are
    quite like prisons. People under civil commitment are held in
    custody continuously from the time they start serving their sentence
    at a correctional facility through their confinement in the civil
    facility.): The Sex Offender Civil Commitment Programs Network
    conducts an annual survey, and the civil commitment data came from
    an email with SOCCPN President Shan Jumper on May 11, 2017,
    estimating that there were 6 or 7 women total, nationally (based on
    the SOCCPN 2016 Annual Survey). And according to the Common
    Questions about Civil Commitment as a Sexually Violent Person
    (Adopted by the ATSA and the Sex Offender Civil Commitment Programs
    Network Executive Boards of Directors on October 13, 2015), there
    are “a few women throughout the country who have been committed.”
  * *Indian Country* (correctional facilities operated by tribal
    authorities or the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of
    Indian Affairs): Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Jails in Indian
    Country, 2015 <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/jic15.pdf>, Table
    5, reporting data for midyear, 2015.
  * *Probation and Parole:* Our counts of women incarcerated and under
    community supervision are from Correctional Populations in the
    United States, 2015
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpus15.pdf>, Appendix Table 3,
    reporting data for December 31, 2015. In order to break out
    community supervision between Probation and Parole, we used
    Probation and Parole in the United States, 2015
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ppus15.pdf> for the percentage
    of women in the Parole and Probation population. (Table 6 for Parole
    and Table 4 for Probation) and applied that ratio to the totals
    reported in CSAT (these numbers are the numbers that appear,
    rounded, in table 1 of CPUS). We then adjusted those numbers to
    ensure that people with multiple statuses were counted only once in
    their most restrictive category. (Because gender-specific data on
    people with more than one correctional status was not available, we
    reduced the number of women on probation and on parole by the ratio
    (3.54% for parole and 1.64% for probation) we used for Mass
    Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017
    <https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html>). For readers
    interested in knowing the total number of people on parole and
    probation, ignoring any double-counting with other forms of
    correctional control, there are 113,200 women on parole and 947,400
    women on probation.

Several data definitions and clarifications may be helpful to 
researchers reusing this data in new ways:

  * To avoid double-counting women held in local jails on behalf of the
    Bureau of Prisons, ICE, U.S. Marshals Service, state, and other
    prison authorities from being counted twice, we removed the 7,763
    women from the jail population reported by the BJS and from the
    numbers we used to calculate the number of convicted women in local
    jails. Our calculation for the number of women held in such
    arrangements was based on data reported for the total number of
    people held in jails for federal and state authorities in Appendix
    Table 2 of Prisoners in 2015
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p15.pdf>, and total number of
    people held in jails for ICE, from page 7 of Report of the
    Subcommittee on Privatized Immigration Detention Facilities
    December 1, 2016, by the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the
    2002 Survey Of Inmates In Local Jails, 2002
    <https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=274>, where our
    analysis showed that about 8.5% of those held in such arrangements
    were women.
  * Because we removed ICE detainees and people under the jurisdiction
    of federal and state authorities from the jail population, we had to
    recalculate the offense distribution reported in Survey Of Inmates
    In Local Jails, 2002
    <https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=274> who were
    “convicted” or “not convicted” without the people who reported that
    they were being held on behalf of state authorities, the Federal
    Bureau of Prisons or U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
    Service/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Our
    definition of “convicted” was those who reported that they were “To
    serve a sentence in this jail,” “To await sentencing for an
    offense,” or “To await transfer to serve a sentence somewhere else”.
    Our definition of not convicted was “To stand trial for an offense,”
    “To await arraignment,” or “To await a hearing for revocation of
    probation/parole or community release”.
  * We also accounted for women held in federal pre-trial detention who
    are confined in facilities other than federal and state prisons. We
    found 1,536 women held by, or for, the U.S. Marshals Service. Census
    of Jails: Population Changes, 1999-2013
    <https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cjpc9913.pdf> Table 13 reports
    that 848 women are in Federal Bureau of Prisons detention centers
    and we estimate that another 688 are in private facilities
    contracted out to the U.S. Marshals Service. We included these 1,536
    women total in the Federal Prisons slice of the pie.
  * Additionally, a significant portion of the jail population is not in
    fact under local jurisdiction, but is in a local jail under contract
    with the U.S. Marshals Service. This population, which in 2013 was
    26,176 for both men and women consists of both people who are
    awaiting trial, and those who are convicted but have not yet been
    sentenced, so they appear in both the convicted and unconvicted
    local jail slices. This is part of why, for example, our total pie
    chart <https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html> shows
    1,000 people “serving” sentences in jails for murder when murder is
    typically an offense that warrants much longer sentences than would
    be served in a jail. We have not yet developed a way to separately
    identify and describe this population, let alone disentangle which
    portion of the reported numbers is women. (Similarly, in 2013, the
    Marshals Service had about 10,000 people - mostly in states that do
    not have separate jail systems - in state prisons for the same
    reasons.) We hope to, in future versions of this report, develop
    more detailed ways to display and describe this population.
  * Lastly, the youth slice does not include 333 girls held in adult
    jails and prisons. There are 300 girls under the age of 17 held in
    local jails (calculated by comparing the adult female and total
    female population reported in Table 3 of Bureau of Justice
    Statistics Jail Inmates in 2015
    [https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ji15.pdf]), and 33 girls under
    the age of 18 held in state or federal prisons (as reported by the
    Bureau of Justice Statistics Quick Table, Reported number of inmates
    under age 18 held in custody in federal or state prisons
    [XLS], December 31, 2000-2015).
  * Separately, note that we did not include a breakdown of the slices
    by race or ethnicity, because that data does not exist. All
    together, however, incarcerated women are 53% White, 28.6% Black,
    14.2% Hispanic, 2.5% American Indian and Alaskan Native, 0.9% Asian,
    and 0.4% Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander.

    See the footnotes


This report was made possible by the partnership of the ACLU Campaign 
for Smart Justice, the support of the Public Welfare Foundation, and all 
of the donors, researchers, programmers and designers who helped the 
Prison Policy Initiative develop the Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 
<https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html> series of reports.

The ACLU wishes to thank John Cutler, Udi Ofer, and Adina Ellis for 
their assistance with this report.

    About the author

Aleks Kajstura is Legal Director of the Prison Policy Initiative. Her 
previous publications on women’s incarceration include States of Women’s 
Incarceration: The Global Context 

    About the Prison Policy Initiative

The non-profit non-partisan Prison Policy Initiative was founded in 2001 
to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization and spark advocacy 
campaigns to create a more just society. The organization is most 
well-known for its big-picture publication Mass Incarceration: The Whole 
Pie <https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html> that helps the 
public more fully engage in criminal justice reform.

Creative Commons License <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/>
This report is licensed under a Creative Commons 
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. 

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