The Justice Department’s latest prison head count has determined that the number of American adults imprisoned has more than doubled over the past 12 years, reaching its highest level ever last year.
Stiff new minimum drug sentencing laws are largely responsible for this prison boom, and as many first-time and small-time offenders are jailed for long periods of time, the number of women in prison has risen. According to a report released this month by Amnesty International, women prisoners are the subject of widespread forms of human rights abuses, particularly sexual abuse by the largely male guard staff in U.S. prisons. The report, entitled “Not Part of My Sentence: Human Rights and Women Inmates in the U.S.,” documents sexual misconduct by male guards and other male inmates against women in prisons, as well as the use of restraints on pregnant women during labor and denial of medical care.
- Janice Christiensen, Campaign Director for Amnesty International USA. Contact Amnesty International USA at (212) 807 8400.
- Robin Lucas, advocate for women in prison who was sexually assaulted in Dublin prison, a federal prison in California, while serving a sentence for bank fraud.