- Sex discrimination in criminal justice administration,
- Sentences (Criminal procedure) -- United States,
- Women prisoners -- Longitudinal studies
Since 1970 the percentage of women incarcerated in U.S. prisons has risen from nearly 3 percent to almost 7 percent—more than doubling in less than 40 years. This article examines explanations for this phenomenon—concentrating on two: Changes in the relative rates of arrest for females and males and sentencing reforms that were instituted during this period. The authors examine trends in female to male imprisonment rates from 1970 to 2008 across all fifty states using panel analysis. The only robust relationship they find is between the ratio of female to male incarceration rates and the ratio of female to male arrest rates for drug crimes. Sentencing reforms designed to limit the discretion of judges and those designed to limit the discretion of parole boards (the elimination of parole boards or truth in sentencing) are not related to changes in the ratio of female to male incarceration rates.