Record high number of women in state, federal prisons

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – The number of women in both state and federal prisons is at an all time high and growing at a rate twice as fast as their male counterparts, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the report, which surveyed prison population in 2003, the number of females in prisons around the country grew 3.6 percent over the past year to 101,179 women. This is the first year that the number of women in state in federal prison has topped 100,000.

Despite the gain, men are still far more likely to imprisoned, with black men the most likely demographic to call prison home, the survey showed. The number of men in prison in 2003 increased 2.0 percent since 2002 to 1,368,866 men.

The number of women imprisoned has increased by 48 percent, since 1995 when 64,468 women were behind bars, according to the report.

“It coincides exactly with the inception of the war on drugs,” Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project, a group that advocates alternatives to long prison terms for many types of crimes, told the AP. “It represents a sort of vicious cycle of women engaged in drug abuse and often connected with financial or psychological dependence with a boyfriend,” or another man, Mauer said.

Mauer attributes the increase for the expanding prison population to longer sentences, especially for drug crimes, and fewer people being granted parole or probation.

Do these statistics hold true for students on college campuses all over the country?

While there is no uniform data that records campus crime by gender, police departments at colleges and universities say that men still commit more crimes than women and are more frequently arrested-most commonly for theft.

“The numbers have been and remain flat with hardly any females being arrested for criminal activity,” said Henry Christensen, director of University of Miami’s public safety department.

At University of Maryland’s College Park campus, 24 percent of the arrests made on campus were women, compared to last year’s 28 percent, according to data on their Web site. This figure is only representative of the reports which gender was available.

Most colleges and universities around the country say that underage drinking and alcohol possession are the majority of crimes committed on campus.

“While we don’t have any statistic on this, because of the age group and demographic you’re dealing with, underage drinking and alcohol consumption make up the largest type of crime on campus,” said a Miami University of Ohio police department spokesman.

Possession of marijuana and other illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia was also a common crime for students, several schools said.

Data on the FBI’s website shows that property crime is very prevalent on college campuses nationwide. At Duke University last year, for example, there were 1,048 cases of property crime reported for a student body of 6,325.

Colleges and universities are required by federal law to report statistics of crime on and around their campuses to the U.S. Department of Education per the Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, originally known as the Campus Security Act.

The “Clery Act” is named in memory of 19 year old Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Ann Clery who was raped and murdered while asleep in her residence hall room on April 5, 1986.

Copyright c2004 U-WIRE via U-Wire

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