Aging in Prison: The Forgotten Plight of Women Behind Bars
The Crime Report
August 28, 2019

“Policy and practice at correctional institutions haven’t met the needs of female prisoners when they require specialized treatment, preventative care and emotional support as they age behind bars.”

“About 219,000 women are now serving time in U.S. prisons and jails, according to a Prison Policy Initiative 2018 report. Minimum sentencing laws along with a greater likelihood of receiving a conviction for drug and property crimes, have led to a more than 700 percent increase in the number of female inmates, particularly in state correctional facilities, over the past four decades. A quarter of women serving time in prisons and jails are awaiting trial. Currently, almost 7,000 women are serving a life sentence at prisons in states including California, Alaska, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland and Utah, according to the Sentencing Project. Okahoma, Kentucky, South Dakota, Idaho, and Missouri are also states incarcerating women at the heaviest levels. About two-thirds of these women will have the prospect of parole after serving two or more decades.”

“Data show women receive life sentences at double the rate of males and are receiving convictions later in life. Combined with the general aging of the U.S. population these trends suggest that as the years of their sentences go by, the number of incarcerated women over age 50 will increase.”


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