525% spike in women’s incarceration since 1980 — how is NJ doing?
⚫ "Overcriminalization" needlessly destroys lives, The Sentencing Project says
⚫ The rate of women's incarceration is 10 per 100,000 in New Jersey
⚫ 73% of imprisoned women in NJ committed crimes against other people
New Jersey's rate of women imprisonment is better than the rate in most other states, but the nation as a whole has seen a wildly high increase in the number of women behind bars over the last several years, according to a report released Monday by The Sentencing Project.
Marking the "50-year legacy of mass incarceration in the United States," the report recorded more than 168,000 women in jail, state prison, and federal prison in 2021. The count was a little more than 26,000 in 1980.
"The continued overcriminalization of women and girls does nothing to improve public safety, but needlessly destroys lives, families and communities," said Amy Fettig, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.
There are more men incarcerated than women, but the rate of growth for female incarceration is twice as high as that of men since 1980, the report finds.
Women's incarceration in New Jersey
At the countrywide level, 47 out of every 100,000 women were imprisoned in 2021. The rate was 10 out of 100,000 in the Garden State.
"New Jersey is definitely one of the lower states, and we see that pattern also continue for girls," said Kristen Budd, research analyst for The Sentencing Project.
According to the most recent update from the New Jersey Department of Corrections, 72% of incarcerated individuals in the state's system have sentences that include mandatory minimum terms.
Seventy-three of New Jersey's incarcerated women were committed for crimes against other people, such as homicide, sexual assault, and robbery, according to DOC.
Prior reporting from The Sentencing Project finds New Jersey is among the worst states for racial disparity in prisons. More than 50% of New Jersey's prison population is Black (versus 15% of New Jersey's population), and Black New Jersey citizens are incarcerated at nine times the rate of white New Jersey citizens, Budd said.