Number of women prisoners climbs in Ohio, bucking downward trend among men


Women's prison population growth outstripped growth in the men's population in every state during the past 27 years. A different trend has emerged since the end of 1999. Women continue to be disproportionately impacted in states where overall growth rates remain high. But among states that experienced little or no prison population growth, a large majority saw growth rates for female prisoners fall below rates for males.

Women led the growth trend in 29 of 30 states where the total prison population (male and female) rose by 10 percent or more over the last half-decade. The opposite was true of states that experienced slower growth or a net decline in their total prison population: 13 of 20 saw their male prison population rise more quickly, or decline more slowly, than their female population.

Ohio has proven a major exception to the rule. Between 1999 and 2004 the state's male prison population fell by 5.4 percent while the number of women behind state prison bars shot up by 12 percent. The growth in Ohio's female prison population should be cause for particular concern because of the unique strains on children or families that can result from the incarceration of mothers.

Portions of this story were previously published in Hard Hit: The Growth in the Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004. For more information on women in prison click on "Women" below.