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Female Prison Population Grew 75% -- 1986 to 1991


August 1994

The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported in April that the number of women serving time in state prisons for drug offenses jumped to one in three in 1991, up from one in eight in 1986. For overall offenses, the female prison population increased 75 percent between 1986 and 1991, totaling almost 39,000 in June of 1991 ("Drug Offenses Produce Rise In Numbers of Female Inmates," Drug Enforcement Report, May 23, 1994, p. 7).

In a June 1994 BJS report entitled "Prisoners in 1993," a review of federal and state prison populations indicates that the number of female inmates nationwide (55,365) increased at a faster rate during 1993 than the number of male inmates (893,516). The rate of increase in incarceration was 9.6% for females and for 7.2% for males. However the overall rate of incarceration of males (679 per 100,000) was 18 times higher than that for sentenced females (38 per 100,000). At the end of 1993, females made up 5.8% of all prisoners nationwide (p. 4, bulletin number NCJ-147036).