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Tough-on-crime legislation and legislation associated with the war on drugs have been connected to the increasing rate of the incarceration of women of color from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
This rapid boom of female prisoners is something the primarily male-dominated prison system was not structurally prepared for and, as a result, female prisons often lack the resources to accommodate the specific social, mental, healthcare needs of these women.
Between 20 the number of males in prison grew by 1.4% per annum, while the number of females grew by 1.9% per annum.
From 2010 to 2013 the numbers fell for both genders, -0.8% for males and -0.5 for females.
In a third stage of development, women in prison were then housed completely separately in fortress-like prisons, where the goal of punishment was to indoctrinate women into traditional feminine roles.
Despite the widespread historical shifts in female incarceration, there have been documented instances of women being held in men's prisons well into the twentieth century, one such example being the nearly two years that Assata Shakur was imprisoned, primarily in men's facilities, in the 1970s.
Hispanic women are incarcerated at nearly twice the rate of white women, and black women are incarcerated at four times the rate of white women.
Child care is also another issue that women must worry about when they are incarcerated.
Back in 1983, only 480 women were serving time in Spanish prisons.
The figure currently stands at 5,117, twice the rate of neighbouring France. 6 percent of Spain’s total prison population, but female inmate rates across the continent and worldwide are somewhat lower, with 5.3 and 6 percent respectively.
In 1973 Shakur was held in the Middlesex County Jail in New Jersey, supposedly due to its proximity to the courthouse.
She was the first, and last, woman ever imprisoned there, and was held in deplorable conditions including isolation and twenty-four hour observation.
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The first American female correctional facility with dedicated buildings and staff was the Mount Pleasant Female Prison in Ossining, New York; the facility had some operational dependence on nearby Sing Sing, a men's prison.