U.S.: Home to 30% of the World's Incarcerated Women


Although the U.S. has just 5% of the world’s female population, it accounts for nearly 30% of the world’s incarcerated women, according to a new report by the Prison Policy Initiative.

Using 2010 U.S. Census data, the report calculated incarceration rates for women in each state and placed them in a global context, comparing the rates of U.S. states with those of countries around the world. Twenty-five U.S. states held the top positions in the data. Incarceration data for each country was based on information from the Institute for Criminal Policy Research and the United Nations, among other sources.

West Virginia leads the world, incarcerating women at a rate of 273 for every 100,000 individuals, the study found. Rhode Island, the U.S. state with the lowest incarceration rate (39 out of 100,000) still confines women at a higher rate than 14 countries, including Kazakhstan, Ecuador and China.

“In the U.S., we are not only incarcerating women far more than nearly all other nations, but we are also incarcerating women far more than we have done in the recent past,” write Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon. “The sudden growth of incarceration in our country has been staggering; our incarceration rate nearly tripled between 1980 and 1990.

“The report is available HERE.

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