The number of female inmates has grown from about 12,000 in 1980 to more than 100,000 today, says the Kansas City Star. Missouri’s two women’s prisons are at capacity, and females are being incarcerated at twice the rate of increase for men. This influx has created gender challenges long overlooked. Male prisoners tend to obey guards’ orders and expect no help from staff, experts say. Women talk back and expect programs to improve their lives. Men might settle problems with fists. Women fight with words. Male and female criminals are not the same and shouldn’t be treated the same, experts say.
Experts are studying findings and considering new programs. They want to better manage women inmates, address the role of drugs and improve prospects for their children. Missouri, with the midwest’s highest incarceration rate for women, is among states leading the effort. Together with Hawaii and Minnesota, the state is working with the National Institute of Corrections on new ways to assess female inmates. Missouri also plans probation and parole changes.