Female population in Colorado prisons reached 1,900 in 2004, a 166 percent increase in 10 years, says the Rocky Mountain News. While female prisoners make up only about 9 percent of the total inmate population, the number of women in prison is increasing at more than three times the rate for men. The number of women in federal and state prisons in Colorado rose 9.4 percent in 2004, compared with the 2.6 percent growth rate of male prisoners in the state, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Tana Ryan, 39, a mother of two, is serving a 20-year sentence for selling drugs. She will wake up in a prison cell each morning for at least 10 years, before she becomes eligible for parole. Nearly one-third of female inmates are in prison for drug crimes, compared with one in five for men. A third of females are incarcerated for violent offenses such as murder and robbery. Jefferson County District Attorney Scott Storey said meth often leads to other crimes such as domestic violence and identity theft. Taxpayers pay more to house female inmates. Women’s clothing costs $43 more than male clothing, and women need more medical assistance than men. The corrections department is looking for ways to meet women’s needs. One new program is small suites at one facility for female parents. “This is a progressive, highly regulated program which may culminate in children spending the night with their mother at the facility,” said one official.