Duluth News Tribune
Sun, Oct. 09, 2005
Women are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. prison population, a trend fueled by their growing involvement in drug crimes and by longer sentences in general.
Since 1995, the number of women in state and federal prisons has swelled more than 50 percent, outstripping an increase of about 32 percent for men. Female jail populations are growing even faster.
Most are mothers. Between 66 percent and 90 percent have children, at least two-thirds of them under age 18. When a mother is locked up, her children usually end up in foster care or living with a relative other than their father. By contrast, most children with imprisoned fathers stay with their mothers.
Advocates say programs that help mothers behind bars to maintain relationships with their children are key to reducing crime over the long run.