Diane Sawyer’s special on February 27th examined the fastest growing group of the largest prison population in the world–Women. The United States has almost 2.3 million inmates and 200,000 of the inmates are women. Sawyer visited four women’s prisons in the United States; the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, the Corrections Center for Women in Washington state, the Lowell Correctional Institution in Florida, and the Prison for Women in Nashville Tennessee.
After watching the documentary, it was evident that the problems that plague the men’s prisons are the same for the women’s prisons. A large number of the women inmates have serious mental health problems and are being warehoused in prisons and jails instead of receiving effective mental health care. Many local communities do not provide mental health care and the majority of state psychiatric hospitals were closed to save funds in the 1980’s. There are too many elderly inmates that should be released after serving long years of incarceration. Studies have shown that elderly inmates released are at very little risk of being arrested again. (read more)