Women’s rate of incarceration has surpassed men. According to the Sentencing Project, the number of women in prison in the U.S. increased by 700 percent between 1980 and 2014. While there are more men in prison, the total women’s prison population grew at a rate of 50 percent more than that of men between 1980 and 2014.
Of the population of women in prison, some 86 percent of them are victims of sexual abuse. And many incarcerated women are guilty of crimes that include defending themselves.
This week’s Divided States of Women digs into this statistic and the injustice of incarcerating women who defend themselves from abusers. We talk to two women, both formerly incarcerated, about their stories and a policy that could potentially change the fate of many of these women.