Skip to main content
Publications

Gender and Justice: Women, Drugs, and Sentencing Policy

November 01, 1999
Marc Mauer, Cathy Potler, and Richard Wolf
This report examines the impact of drug offenses and sentencing policy on women at the national level and in New York, California and Minnesota.

A key factor in the rise of the women’s prison population in recent years has been the impact of the “war on drugs.”

As will be seen, the set of law enforcement and sentencing policies and practices that have been enshrined under this approach have had a dramatic and disproportionate impact on women. This has been due to a variety of factors relating both to the circumstances in which women use and abuse drugs, and the impact, whether intended or not, of criminal justice policies.

This report examines the confluence of these various factors in recent years – how the criminal justice system has responded to drug abuse and crime by women. We begin with a national overview of the issue and then focus on trends in three states – New York, California, and Minnesota. The state analysis was conducted because national data often mask significant variation among the states in how they respond to social and criminal problems. This may involve law enforcement priorities, sentencing policy, the use of discretion within the criminal justice system, and responses that lie outside the criminal justice system.

To read the report, download the PDF below.

 
Related Posts
publications
The Sentencing Project Calls on Congress to Pass First Step Act
November 28, 2018

The Sentencing Project Calls on Congress to Pass First Step Act

In a letter sent to Senate and House leadership, The Sentencing Project urged Congress to move quickly to pass the sentencing reform measures in the First Step Act (S.3649) "to help create a safer, more equitable and fairer justice system."
publications
December 04, 2018

The Meaning of Life: The Case for Abolishing Life Sentences

Marc Mauer and Ashley Nellis
The dramatic growth of life imprisonment requires advocates and lawmakers to address the problem of excessive sentencing to end mass incarceration.