Florida’s corrections department recently asked state legislators for an emergency transfer of $2.3 million from its budget for men’s prisons to the budget for women’s, reports Women’s eNews. That will pay for three new 131-bed dormitories at a women’s prison in the rural Florida Panhandle. “The number of female admissions between the last fiscal year and this fiscal year was double that of male admissions and continues to increase,” said the agency’s budget director.
Though women are still a tiny minority of those incarcerated–3.7 percent of the 2 million behind bars–their prison-populating growth is outpacing that of men. The number of female inmates in state and federal prison systems grew by 5 percent between June 2002 and July 2003, compared to a 2.7-percent increase for male inmates. Martha Stewart is an atypical female inmate, notes Diane Young of Syracuse University. Most women in prison are poorly educated, with no marketable skills and little or no income, she said. Many have substance-abuse problems and are led into crime by boyfriends, husbands, or pimps.