The documentary, Equal Means Equal, reviewed today by Alexandra MacAaron, unpacks “the ramifications of the lack of legal bedrock underpinning American women’s place in our society due to the failure of our Constitution to include them.” The film looks at some of the more pressing ways that women’s fundamental lack of guaranteed equality affects their lives, including the rights of women who are incarcerated. 

A timely report recently released in August by the Vera Institute of Justice finds that the number of women in jail has grown far faster than that of men.

Reporting in The New York Times, Timothy Williams summarized the report’s findings:

[T]he number of women in local jails in the United States was almost 14 times what it was in the 1970s, a far higher growth rate than for men, although there remain far fewer women than men in jails and prisons.

The study found that the number of women held in the nation’s 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.

And yet as women are the fastest growing group in jail, the Vera Institute of Justice notes that very little is known on why this is the case as most studies are geared toward men. In tandem, Vera hopes that this new report can begin “to reframe the conversation to include them. It offers a portrait of women in jail, explores how jail can deepen the societal disadvantages they face, and provides insight into what drives women’s incarceration and ways to reverse the trend.”

Read the full report and its summary at the Vera Institute of Justice.

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