Women’s incarceration has grown at twice the pace of men’s incarceration in recent decades, and has disproportionately been located in local jails.
Jails also make it harder to stay in touch with family than prisons do. Jail phone calls are often at least three times as expensive as calls from prison, and other forms of communication are more restricted — some jails don’t even allow real letters, limiting mail to postcards. Increasingly, both prisons and jails are doing away with real mail altogether and contracting with private companies that scan and then destroy postal mail, delivering shoddy scanned copies to the recipients. These barriers to authentic communication are especially troubling given that 80% of women in jails are mothers, and most of them are primary caretakers of their children. Thus children are particularly susceptible to the domino effect of burdens placed on incarcerated women.