A national report finds there are more women in prison today than in past years, and Iowa’s no exception. Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta says the women serving time also tend to have a criminal record involving drugs more than female prisoners did in the past. He says the other kind of offenses you usually see women commit — property offenses, check-writing, and prostitution remain about the same but drug convictions are going up.
Scaletta says 20 years ago three-percent of the prison population were convicted for crimes related to drugs, but today that figure is 27 percent — and of those, he says 70-percent involve the drug meth. He says a criminal record isn’t their only problem.
They also estimate that around 75-percent of the prison population is in need of some kind of substance-abuse treatment, and that substance abuse is a trend among those sent to prison, no matter what their conviction was for.
The report says the percentage of prisoners who are women is increasing compared to those who are men. Scaletta says many have a “dual diagnosis.” The concept means a substance-abuse issue combined with a mental-health or special-needs problem. He says in prisons they use the concept of dual diagnosis, and hope to increase substance abuse counseling because there’s such a need for it.
The national report found the growth in women prisoners has surpassed the increase in male prisoners in all fifty states. The national report on incarcerated women shows that the total number of women sentenced to prison in 1977 was 84, and in the year 2004 757 were sentenced as prisoners. The overall rate was higher, too — for every 100-thousand people in the population, in 1977 there were 6 women in prison, and by 2004 that rate had risen to fifty.
Related web sites:
Institute on Women and Crimnial Justice