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Unlike prisons designed for men in the United States, state prisons for women evolved in three waves, as described in historical detail in "Partial Justice: Women in State Prisons" by Nicole Hahn Rafter.
First, women prisoners were imprisoned alongside men in "general population", where they were subject to sexual attacks and daily forms of degradation.
For example, there has been a distinct increase in the number of incarcerated African American and Latina women in the U.
S., who make up a disproportionate number of women arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated for drug-related offenses.
Severe sentencing laws, especially mandatory minimum sentences, which were a part of Reagan’s crime bill and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 engendered a mass increase in imprisonment.
The passage of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines compelled judges to give lengthy sentences even when they believed the defendant was not a threat to society.
In 1973 Shakur was held in the Middlesex County Jail in New Jersey, supposedly due to its proximity to the courthouse.Some fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson called for a “War on Crime.” Consequently, Johnson presented to Congress the Law Enforcement Assistance Act, which allowed for the first time in America, a “direct role for the Federal Government in local police operations, court systems, and state prisons.” Together, the War on Crime and War on Drugs would produce contemporary mass incarceration in America,“distinguished by rate of imprisonment far above all other industrialized nations and involving the systematic confinement of entire groups of citizens.” Before announcement of the War on Drugs, the Federal Government had created the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), which became the fastest-growing federal agency in the 1970s; its purpose was to supervise and control low-income urban communities.The War on Crime and the War on Drugs has led to the increase in prosecution of drug cases, which has been the central contributor to both the expansion of prisons and the “philosophical shift” to that of a more punitive system."More than 950,000 women were under correctional supervision in 1998, about 1% of the US female population.In the past decade, the numbers and proportions of women have increased in terms of all components of the system: jail, probation, parole, and prison".