Morris, now a program assistant for a social services agency in New York who also twice served time for selling cocaine.
“Incarceration, it breaks up homes, it breaks up families.
The vast majority of the women are arrested for nonviolent crimes.“So although we’re in this moment where there is attention on jails and a desire in many jurisdictions to rethink the way they use their jails, and reduce the overuse of jails, the population of women continues to grow,” says Elizabeth Swavola, senior program associate at the Vera Institute and coauthor of a report on women in jails released this week.
“[This] suggests that these reform initiatives around the country aren’t reaching women.”The report found the number of women in jail had skyrocketed nearly 1,300 percent (from fewer than 8,000 in 1970 to about 110,000 in 2014).
During those years, the overall jail population climbed nearly 400 percent (from 157,000 to to 745,000).
There has been a slight decline in the number of people the United States locks up every year in federal and state prisons – with 1.5 million people, the US still houses about 25 percent of the global prison population.
But at the same time, the nation’s city and county jails have still been processing growing numbers of people accused of crimes.
Now, in a finding that has stunned researchers, women in jails are the fastest growing population within the justice system.
That's at a time when crime rates have declined and there are ongoing efforts to reduce the numbers of people locked up for nonviolent offenses.
When Laticia Morris reflects on her tumultuous family life years ago, she almost feels it was her fate to end up in jail.
Her dad spent most of his life in and out of prison, she says, never holding down an honest job.
Her mother, too, was caught in a pattern of drug addiction and criminal behavior.
Their time away from their daughter began a cycle of criminal behavior from the start, she says now.“But that is simply to say how incarceration was in the household, from the very beginning of my existence,” says Ms.