Incarceration of women
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the English-speaking world and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (November 2013)|
This article discusses the incarceration of women in correctional facilities. According to a study reported in September 2014 by the International Center for Prison Studies, as of August 2014, across the world, 625,000 women and children are being held in penal institutions with the female prison population growing on all five continents.
Early facilities were considered inhumane with little regard for health and safety. Men and women were housed in a large room where the strong preyed on the weak. As of 2007, in most of the Western world, the guards on female prisons are exclusively female. As of that year there are males who work as guards in women's prisons in the United States. However, some states have laws requiring female officers as well as a female superintendent. While most states have only one or two institutions for women, some facilities are considered "unisex" and house both male and female inmates in separate areas.
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, as of August 2014, the Chinese women prison population is the second largest in the world (after the United States) with 84,600 female prisoners in total or 5.1% of the overall Chinese prison population.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2013)|
In Great Britain, in 1996 a new policy was passed, and women no longer have to be restrained while giving birth when serving their sentence. The British services for human rights and the United Nations standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners say that no one should be subjected to degrading punishment. Some prisoners refuse to go to child care events or funerals because of the humiliation the restraints show. Women in Britain fought for their right to not be restrained while giving birth to their child, however they must be restrained while being escorted to and from the hospital. More women than men try to escape the prison system in Britain. Of those women who escape almost half escape while receiving medical attention at a hospital.
In the United States, authorities began housing women in correctional facilities separate from men in the 1870s. The first American female correctional facility with dedicated buildings and staff was the Mount Pleasant Female Prison in Ossining, New York; the facility had some operational dependence on nearby Sing Sing, a men's prison. In the 1930s, 34 women's prisons were built, by 1990 there were 71 women's prisons in the country, but only five years later there were 150 (Chesney-Lind, 1998:66).
According to the International Center for Prison Studies, as of August 2014, nearly a third of all female prisoners worldwide are incarcerated in the United States. There are more than 201,000 women prisoners in the US, or about 8.8 percent of the total American prison population.
Rape in prison
Rape in female prisons has also been commonplace for a long period of time in both the US and the UK. In England and Wales, a report showed that female prisoners are being coerced into sex with staff members in return for various favours, such as alcohol and cigarettes. Rape may even be more common than reports show, given that it is difficult to know the full truth about what goes on behind the walls of a prison, along with the fact that inmates often have no legal remedy to seek justice for abuse and rape.
In the United States the Alabama prison scandal at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women revealed gross sexual misconduct by male staff members against female inmates, include rape. Trying to report these abuses would be punishable by humiliation and solitary confinement and punishments for the sexual offenders were rare and small.
- Nearly A Third Of All Female Prisoners Worldwide Are Incarcerated In The United States (Infographic) (2014-09-23), Forbes
- International Centre for Prison Studies
- Pollock, Joycelyn M. (2002). Women, Prison, & Crime. CA: Wadsworth Thomson Learning. p. 23.
- Talvi, Silja (2007). Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System. Emeryville: Seal Press. pp. 56.
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- Pollock, Joycelyn M. (2002). Women, Prison, & Crime. CA: Wadsworth Thomson Learning. p. 9.
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