Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Phoenix isn’t surprised more women nationwide are being incarcerated than ever before, says the Arizona Republic. “What’s going on with more women in our jails is drugs, particularly meth, and then doing crimes like prostitution to get the drugs,” Arpaio said. “Meth is cheap, easy to get and very addictive. A terrible combination.”
Nationally, the number of female state inmates serving sentences of more than a year grew by 757 percent between 1977 and 2004, nearly twice the 388 percent increase for men, says the New York-based Women’s Prison Association. In Arizona and in Maricopa County, the number of incarcerated women has more than doubled since 1995. There are still far more men in prison than women, but the rate of increase among female prisoners surpasses that of men. During the last five years about 30 percent of men and 42 percent of women booked into the Maricopa County jail system tested positive for meth.