Giving Compass' Take:

• Aleks Kajstura breaks down available data on women's mass incarceration from 2018, highlighting missing data and concerning trends. 

• How can funders help to improve the collection of and access to incarceration data? 

• Learn about solutions to women's incarceration

With growing public attention to the problem of mass incarceration, people want to know about women’s experience with incarceration. How many women are held in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities in the United States? And why are they there? How is their experience different from men’s?

In stark contrast to the total incarcerated population, where the state prison systems hold twice as many people as are held in jails, incarcerated women are much more evenly split between state prisons and local jails. This has serious consequences for incarcerated women and their families.

Women’s incarceration has grown at twice the pace of men’s incarceration in recent decades, and has disproportionately been located in local jails. The explanation for exactly what happened, when, and why does not yet exist because the data on women has long been obscured by the larger scale of men’s incarceration. Frustratingly, even as this report is updated every year, it will not become a tool for tracking changes in women’s incarceration over time. The dearth of data means that this report is compiled from the best sources available, which are updated less frequently than “total population” data, and are often not compatible across years.

Looking at the big picture shows that a staggering number of women who are incarcerated are not even convicted: a quarter of women who are behind bars have not yet had a trial. Moreover, 60% of women under local control have not been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial.

Read the full article about women's mass incarceration in 2018 by Aleks Kajstura at Prison Policy Initiative.