Like the institution for men, a female prison houses those individuals found guilty of committing a crime or act that is regarded as unlawful and demonstrative towards society. Other than the gender of the population, there is no fundamental difference a female prison and a male correctional facility. To many a surprise, women represent the fastest growing population in the American prison system.
Between 1980 and 1998 the female prison population increased at an overwhelming 313%. By the end of 2000, women account for approximately 7.5% of the total prison population. Women in prison are disproportionately of colors: African American women comprise roughly 46% of the female prison population, white women comprise 32%, and Hispanic Women comprise 22%.
The primary differences found between male prisons and female prisons arise simply due to the psychological and personalities of the two genders. Studies have shown that women in prison are more likely to participate in therapy groups or workshops that aid in solving their problems or to help with pinpointing the reasons for their actions.
A female prison is typically comprised of poor women--the majority of women prisoners (55%) and women in jail (75%) were unemployed at the time of their incarceration. Furthermore, when a woman goes to prison her family, if she has one, becomes devastated. An estimated 75% of women incarcerated in state prisons have children under the age of 18 years old.
Because there are so few women correctional facilities it is likely that an incarcerated woman is move farther away from her home than the average male prisoner. This increased distance further strains the family; the increased distance places a toll on the woman's family during visitation days. In addition, women also experience worse medical care than men.
Routine gynecological care, such as breast exams, pap smears, and mammograms are exceedingly rare in female prisons. The most common causes of female incarceration are domestic violence, narcotics use, narcotics possession, and burglary.