Sonya Eskridge is a writer from Maryland, who started her news career in radio at the age of 17. After graduating from Virginia Tech, she went on to write for a national publication where she was able to mold her personal voice. Always looking for ways to inform on important issues—or share her love of nerdy and girly things—Sonya thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide range of subjects.
The number of women being locked up has exploded, but kids may be the hardest hit.
“Orange Is The New Black” takes a gritty, intriguing look inside the lives and experiences of female inmates. Although it’s an addictive distraction for many women, the experience is becoming a reality for more and more of them.
According to stats collected by The Huffington Post, the number of women in prison has doubled since 1991! As of 2012, there were nearly 109,000 women in lockup.
Overall, there are still more men in prison–about 1,461,425 in 2012–but the Bureau of Justice also reports that women are fastest growing segment of inmates. Stats show that from 1992-2012, that rate of imprisonment for women had skyrocketed in some areas. For example, the rate of women getting locked up grew more than 1,100 percent! Compare that to the rise for men, which was just under 200 percent.
That is an extreme outlier, of course, but the general trend shows that women are getting locked up in almost disproportionately higher ratios than men. The state with the next biggest disparity was West Virginia, where the number of inmates had increased about 850 percent. Male inmates went up by 300 percent.
It’s also been found that women are far more likely to go prison on drug – related charges. In 2011, 57 percent of women in federal prison were there for drug offenses. That number was 47.4 percent for men.
Sadly, children may be among the hardest hit by this phenomenon. In 2004, 61.7 percent of women in state prisons were mothers. The number drops to 55.9 when looking at women in federal prisons.
Of that segment of moms behind bar, 82.8 percent of women in federal penitentiaries were the minor children’s primary caretaker. Some 68.5 percent of then were also provided the provided the primary financial support for their kids in the month before they were locked up. It was about 77.1 percent (caregiver) and 51.9 (primary financial support) of moms state facilities.
Finally, the number of kids with mothers in prison has more the doubled from 1991 at 63,900 to 2007, when the number had risen to 147,000.