Oklahoma, Mississippi, and the Mountain states have set the pace in increasing imprisonment of women, while several Northeastern states are curtailing the practice, says a report by the New York-based Women’s Prison Association quoted by the Associated Press. The number of female state inmates serving sentences of more than a year grew by 757 percent from 1977 to 2004, nearly twice the 388 percent increase for men, the report said.
The increase was most notable in the Mountain states, where the number of incarcerated women soared by 1,600 percent. The report agreed with other analyses attributing much of the increase in women’s imprisonment to the war on drugs. The proportion of women serving time for drug offenses has risen sharply in recent years, while the proportion convicted of serious violent crimes has dropped, the report said.