The War on Drugs: Successful in Raising Female Incarceration Rates

The War on Drugs: Successful in Raising Female Incarceration Rates

"Women have been adversely affected by the war on drugs."

Women are about 20% less likely to be convicted of a violent crime in comparison to men. Women are more likely to be convicted of a drug or property crime by approximately the same amount. Yet, the incarceration of women over the past few decades has increased by over 500%! Whether you agree with the war on drugs or not, there is a real epidemic of women being incarcerated and families being destroyed because of it.

Two-thirds of female prisoners are parents to a minor child, and the majority have that child in their custody. Sure, no one is telling the women to do out, use drugs and get incarcerated. That isn’t the point. The point is that filling prisons with women that have drug offenses is not the optimal solution. Perhaps we should keep that room for rapists, child molesters and murderers.

The issue with this is also that women often take the rap for men, husbands or boyfriends. That isn’t always the case but that makes up a fair amount of the cases. Just as with anything else in life, women get treated poorly and are often punished for the sins of men.

This does not mean that they should get off scott free. They need drug and alcohol treatment, resume help, job training and parenting classes. Just tossing women in prison is not the answer. That means that kids get sent off to foster care and they are without a mom for years. In some cases, that might be the best answer, if the mom is on drugs all of the time. But, in many cases, families can be salvaged.

One in four women in prison suffers from mental illness. Out of the whole prison population, 25% have severe psychiatric issues. The majority do not get help for that. Many people that suffer from mental illness self-medicate with drugs. If they received proper treatment, perhaps they would not turn to drugs.

Women have been adversely affected by the war on drugs. It’s short-sighted and not effective to just lock them up for minor drug offenses. We can do better than that.