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Female Offenders


Over the years it has been seen that the rate of incarcerated women has increased dramatically because of the measures taken by the state and federal authorities. It has been analyzed that the rate of incarcerated women has increased by 75% during the period of 1986 to 1991. Similarly the rate has ever increased and in 2005 it was found that the rate of women jailed increased by around 4.5%. Moreover several researches have been conducted to find out the number of African Americans amongst these women and it has been found that these African American women are more likely to be imprisoned than their counterparts. These African Americans are serving mostly for non violent crimes which include property disputes. These African Americans face a lot of challenges while in the prison and some special services are also being provided to these women so that they can avoid the problems (Snell 1994; Sabol et al 2007).

Challenges faced by Women in Prison

It has been seen that many of the problems that women face in the prison are due to the inefficiencies of the system which have not been corrected by the authorities concerned. A problem for most of the incarcerated females is that they cannot be accommodated in places nearby their home. This is because few facilities allow the accommodation of female prisoners. In United States it has been seen that women in prison are usually a hundred miles away from their child’s residence. It is stated that “more than 60 % of all women are incarcerated more than one hundred miles from their child’s place of residence” (Human Rights Watch 1996). This problem is related to the families of the female offenders as these females cannot remain in contact with their family. Economic resources of the African American women are low and hence it becomes even more difficult for the family to pay visits to the females. Female prisoners are kept in a high security zone where they cannot be harmed in anyway. This high security zone can prove to be problematic for them as they are discriminated and misclassified accordingly in these high security zones. The facilities available these days in the prisons are not enough to provide the women with the basic rights. The hygiene and healthcare systems of the prison were originally established for men and hence these African American women have to suffer at the hands of the authorities. Gynecological examination is not yet much prevalent in the prison systems of the United States. It has also been seen that many African American women are incarcerated for the use of drugs but these women are not properly taken care of by providing them with different therapies (UN Office Report 2008).  Moreover many of the women in the prison have known to be suffering from different diseases such as Hepatitis B and HIV. But the facilities in prison are not enough to keep a check upon these women and hence they are suffering at the hands of the authorities.
As women are placed in male prisons it is more likely that they would face problems at the hands of the inmates and officers. These women suffer from discrimination and maltreatment from the officers too. These women also suffer from the problem of sexual harassment and torture at the hands of the authorities. Moreover their basic rights are denied in these institutes because of which they suffer even more (Anderson et al p 125). Women in these prisons lack basic facilities which should be given to them by the authorities otherwise these African American women would suffer even more in these prisons.

Special services for Women

In some correctional facilities the rights of women have been recognized by the authorities. As women require gynecological care it is seen that many of the facilities have introduced an option of a particular unit for these women. This unit helps in providing the women with proper diet and medical care. In some cases these women are also given separate cells so that they can be separated from the male prisoners. This happens so that the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence can be prevented amongst the women. Moreover separate grounds and correctional facilities have been allotted to the women so that they can be separated from the male staff. In some correctional facilities it has been seen that male security has not been used at all by the authorities. This is to avoid any sort of mishap that may occur between the male security officers and female prisoners (Urbina 2008).

Public View of the Group

Generally it is believed that the African American women are the most susceptible people to commit a crime. This view of the public creates discrimination for this female group. On many instances it has been seen that the jury becomes biased and passes a decision against this specific group.

Case Study

The problems for female inmates have been noted down since many years. The problems in correctional facilities for women have been cited as a major setback for the human rights activists. Females who are pregnant and are serving in the prison are suffering at the hands of the authorities. A case of Kern County Jail can be cited here when a women was pregnant and serving jail. Louwanna Y was tried by the court and she was serving in the jail and required basic rights for her pregnancy. She was denied these rights and had to give birth to her baby on May 11, 1987 on a mat outside the clinic of the jail (Urbina 2008).


The African American females who are incarcerated should be treated well in the prisons as required by the human rights activists. It is seen that these females are mistreated at many instances and they should be given their rights as required by the law. I believe that these females have the same rights as their counterparts do and special facilities should be designed for this group.



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Urbina, M. G. (2008). A comprehensive study of female offenders: Life before, during, and after incarceration. Springfield, Ill: Charles C. Thomas.

Snell, T. L. 1994. Survey of state prison inmates, 1991. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Sabol, W.J., Couture, H. and Harrison, P.M. (2007). Prisoners in 2006. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice StatisticsBottom of Form

Human Rights Watch (1996) All Too Familiar: Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S. State Prisons,

Quaker UN Office Report June 2008. <>

Addressing the Needs of Women Affected by Armed Conflict, An ICRC Guidance Document by Charlotte Lindsey-Curtet, Florence Tercier Holst-Roness, Letitia Anderson.