Too Many Women? Hidden Overcrowding in CA Prisons


California's 2011 justice realignment plan, established in response to a Supreme Court ruling that the state's prison overcrowding violated the Eighth Amendment's ban on “cruel and unusual punishment,” re-routed thousands of inmates into county jails.

No group benefited more from the new policies than women in the system. California's female inmate population dropped from 9,038 to 6,142 in 2012—while the number of inmates in female prisons, compared with the design capacity of those facilities, plummeted from 170% to 116.9%.

But after the gains of 2012, California women's correctional facilities are once again the most crowded in the state's 33-prison system. Overall numbers in women's facilities shot up 153.5%–now even higher than the infamously crowded men's facilities.

What happened? An investigation by suggests some reasons—including the conversion of one of the main women's facilities into a men's prison, in order to ease overcrowding elsewhere. According to some prisoner's advocates, such measures have effectively meant that women are now shouldering the brunt of California's population reduction efforts.

For the complete results of WitnessLA's investigation, please click HERE.

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