“Why Orange Should Not Be the New Black”

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Women who are convicted of a crime should have their sentences reduced by up to 76 percent because they have lower recidivism rates and tend to face more hardships in prison compared to male inmates, among other factors, according to a study forthcoming in the Vermont Law Review.

Although women participate in crime less frequently than men, the female prison population is growing at nearly 1.5 times the rate of the male prison population, write the authors in the study entitled “Mitigating the Crime that is the Over-Imprisonment of Women: Why Orange Should Not Be the New Black.”

“During the past four decades, females are the fastest growing portion of the prison population,” write Mirko Bagaric, law professor at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and Brienna Bagaric, a teaching fellow at the school. “This demonstrates a grotesque failing in policy development and implementation.”

They argue that women’s sentences should be lower because of factors including:

  • Women have lower recidivism rates. According to  Bureau of Justice Statistics study, 59 percent of women released from prison had be rearrested within three years of their release compared with 69 percent of men.
  • The rate of sexual victimization for female inmates exceeds that of male inmates.
  • A higher percentage of female inmates in state prisons (73 percent) and federal prisons (61 percent) suffer from mental health problems than male inmates in state prisons (55 percent) and federal prisons (44 percent).

Read the study here.

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