Reasons for Growth in the Incarceration of Women in the US

"Other efforts to explain the sharp increase in women’s imprisonment have focused on the 'war on drugs,' with its emphasis on street-level sweeps of those engaged in the drug trade and harsh mandatory sentencing. The crackdown on drug crime was sold to the American public as the answer to an escalating epidemic of male violence. Yet despite their roles as relatively minor players in the drug trade, women – disproportionate numbers of them African American and Latina – have been 'caught in the net' of increasingly punitive policing, prosecutorial, and sentencing policies.19 Once in the system, women often have little choice but to accept plea bargains and then face mandatory minimum sentencing laws that restrict judges from mitigating the impact of their sentencing decisions in consideration of their family situations or their obvious need for substance abuse treatment."

Source: 

Frost, Natasha A.; Greene, Judith; and Pranis, Kevin, "HARD HIT: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004," Institute on Women & Criminal Justice (New York, NY: Women's Prison Association, May 2006), pp. 23-24.
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