More women than ever are headed for prison. In fact, the female populations in prison are the fastest growing segment. This is true across the spectrum of different jails and prisons. From petty theft, drug crimes to crimes that lead to Federal Prison, women are going to jail in record numbers.
The real issue is why are women going to Prison in record numbers and what can we do about it. Last week, Karen Curagan Sypher was sentenced to 87-months in Federal Prison for her role in the Rick Patino scandal. Now, it seems to have been proven true that Sypher harassed and attempted to extort money from Patino over a number of years, hence the long prison term, but this case and others like it show an alarming trend. That is high profile women going to prison for many years.
This insider thinks there are many things that can be done to try and lessen this trend. First, women who have been inside must speak up. When I go to youth groups and talk to the young women they are always surprised to learn that if convicted of a drug felony in California, they will loose medical and other benefits for their future children. Why don’t we teach our kids this?
Too often we see women in prison for drug crimes and their co conspirator or “kingpin” is not. The reason for this is simple. Our system is good at busting the little player and not so great at capturing the ones above. Think about it, Heidi Fleiss went to Prison but none of her “clients” did. Same thing with Eliot Spitzer. He did not face jail time but the Madame in the case did go to jail.
What all of this means is that, as previously written, we do not have equal justice anywhere in our system. And, the only way that will happen is if women who have been inside start using that experience to help others and raise awareness. Raising awareness can bring true change. For more information visit The Women’s Prison Association at www.wpaonline.org.