Women in Prison

Women in Prison

Every day, in courtrooms, legislatures, and in the public square, the ACLU fights to ensure that the criminal justice system treats women and girls fairly, that it protects the health and safety of women in its custody, and that it facilitates their successful reentry into their communities.

In the last 25 years, the number of women and girls caught in the criminal justice system has skyrocketed; many have been swept up in the "war on drugs" and subject to increasingly punitive sentencing policies for non-violent offenders. There are now more than 200,000 women behind bars and more than one million on probation and parole. Many of these women struggle with substance abuse, mental illness, and histories of physical and sexual abuse. Few get the services they need. The toll on women, girls, and their families is devastating.

Every day, in courtrooms, legislatures, and in the public square, the ACLU fights to ensure that the criminal justice system treats women and girls fairly, that it protects the health and safety of women in its custody, and that it facilitates their successful reentry into their communities.

Women in Prison: Latest News and Updates>>

Resources
Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA) (2011 resource): More than 1 million women are currently incarcerated or otherwise under the control of the justice system in the U.S. Of these women, a reported 85-90% have a history of domestic and sexual abuse. Their involvement in the justice system leaves many incarcerated women vulnerable to revictimization.

Women and the Criminal Justice System (2009 feature): In the last 25 years, the number of women and girls caught in the criminal justice system has skyrocketed; many have been swept up in the "war on drugs" and subject to increasingly punitive sentencing policies for non-violent offenders. There are now more than 200,000 women behind bars and more than one million on probation and parole. Many of these women struggle with substance abuse, mental illness, and histories of physical and sexual abuse. Few get the services they need. The toll on women, girls, and their families is devastating.

ACLU Briefing Paper: The Shackling of Pregnant Women & Girls in U.S. Prisons, Jails & Youth Detention Centers (2012 resource)

Custody and Control: Conditions of Confinement in New York’s Juvenile Prisons for Girls (2006 feature)

Multimedia

Video: Pregnant in Prison (2009 video)

Words from Prison (2006 resource): Learn how any woman could be caught between violence and the criminal justice system.

-Words From Prison: Sexual Abuse in Prison

-Words From Prison - Did You Know...?

-Words From Prison: The Collateral Consequences of Incarceration

-Words From Prison - What You Can Do

-Words From Prison: Women's Incarceration and Loss of Parental Rights

-Words From Prison: Drug Policy, Race and Women's Incarceration

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