CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada's female inmate population is climbing at a much higher rate than the national average, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The number of women behind bars in Nevada soared 16.3 percent over the year ending June 30, 2004 compared with the national average of 4 percent. It's the last year for which national statistics are available.
Overall, the state's inmate population climbed 8.4 percent compared with the national average of 1.8 percent.
Fritz Schlottman, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Corrections, said the state's three female institutions are near capacity. There were 915 female prisoners and 10,625 male inmates as of Nov. 1.
"They're here, they're coming and we've got to figure out what to do with them," he told the Nevada Appeal.
Prisons officials and analysts attribute the increase to tougher sentencing laws and an increase in violent crime among women.
Fifty-eight percent of female inmates are serving time for drug or property crimes - usually involving stealing to pay for drugs - compared with one-third of male inmates.