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Women and Crime

In 2004, the number of incarcerated women continued to increase. The number of women in Federal prisons reached 12,164, while the number of women in State prisons reached 92,684. A 1-day count of jail inmates on June 30, 2004 found 86,999 women in custody. Prisons hold people serving sentences for Federal or State crimes. Local jails are used to hold individuals for shorter periods of time, including people who are awaiting arraignment, trial, conviction, or sentencing; are being transferred to prison; violated probation or parole; received a short sentence, generally under 1 year; or who are unable to stay in prisons due to overcrowding.

Incarceration rates are higher among men than women (1,348 jail and prison inmates per 100,000 men versus 123 female inmates per 100,000 women); however, the number of incarcerated women has grown at a much faster rate than that of men. Racial and ethnic differences continue to exist among incarcerated women. Among those women under State and Federal correctional jurisdiction in 2004, the rate was highest among non-Hispanic Blacks (170 per 100,000 women); the incarceration rate among Hispanic women was 75 per 100,000, and the rate among non-Hispanic White women was 42 per 100,000. These rates do not include women under the jurisdiction of local jail authorities.

Arrests can be another indicator of female perpetration of crime. In 2004, some of the more common reasons for women to be arrested included larceny-theft (13.9 percent of arrests), drug abuse violations (9.9 percent of arrests), and driving under the influence (7.9 percent of arrests). Males are more likely than females to be arrested for violent crimes, while females are more likely to be arrested for property crimes and crimes such as disorderly conduct.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.