According to the National Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1,366,721 men and women were reportedly incarcerated in state and federal prisons at the end of 1999. Of this total, 90,668 were females, accounting for 6.6 percent of the nation's total offender population. Although the female offender population comprises only a small portion of the total population, every year since 1981, the growth rate of female adult offenders has exceeded that of male adult offenders. Between 1980-1994, the number of women entering the nation's state and federal prisons increased by 386 percent, compared to a 214 percent increase in the number of men entering prison.
In 1990, the American Correctional Association published the results from a survey it conducted on female offenders. Based on the responses of 2,094 female offenders in 400 state and local correctional facilities, a very detailed profile of the female offender was produced.
In addition to the facts provided by the survey, the literature on female offenders indicates the following: