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Prison Path

Too Many Women in Jail



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Although men comprise over 90% of inmates, and commit about 80% of violent crime, the United States has a much higher percentage of incarcerated women in jail than other developed countries.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines jail as follows:

“A place of confinement for persons held in lawful custody; specifically :such a place under the jurisdiction of a local government (such as a county) for the confinement of persons awaiting trial or those convicted of minor crimes.”

There are far too many women in jail (not convicted of any crime) waiting for trial—because they cannot afford bail. Studies have indicated that women in jail had an approximate annual median income of $11,000. Minority women had an even lower annual median income.

With such a low income, how could a woman afford even a $10,000 bail bond. Although a bail bondsman would accept 5-10% of the ordered $10,000 bail, most low income women do not have $500—$1,000. The majority of the jailed women are the only parent contributing the only financial support for their children.

Because many of the jailed women are the primary caretakers of their children, they are not usually considered flight risks.

The painful conclusion–incarcerated women (not convicted) are held in jail waiting for their court date, because they are poor. This shameful condition can be easily cured by judges acting humanely, when imposing bail.

The plight of poor women in jail, waiting for trial, is another example of our broken system of justice.

By; Bradley Schwartz
Founder of
Prison Consultant


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Tami Tipton-Fletcher
Tami Tipton-Fletcher

Hello Bradley, First, I want to thank you for the work you do with your publications/public education of our current issues surrounding the incarcerated. I was the Asst. DON of a 3200 inmate county jail in western PA.. Our issues may indeed evolve with minor traversing courses, but the real issues stay the same. As for this article, the “now” and the “usual” comfort zone always seems to prevail over trial and error or even attempted THOUGHT OUT cost containment processes. While these females have not been convicted, they remail waiting a trial date. Why not bracelet them and let… Read more »