“Since the early 1990s, increases in the prison population in England and Wales have sparked a boom in prison construction, leading commentators to comment on ‘the largest prison building program since the middle of the 19th century’ (Morgan, 1999: 110). While women make up a small proportion of those incarcerated, their rates of imprisonment have multiplied faster than men’s, causing feminist activists to call for drastic measures to counter ‘the crisis in women’s prisons’. 4 Between 1985 and 1998, for example, the number of women in prison more than doubled, from 1,532 to 3,260 (Prison Reform Trust, 2000). The prison service has responded by contracting with private corporations to built and operate new prisons, and by rerolling men’s prisons for women. Recent government initiatives designed to slow the increase in the use of incarceration, such as Home Detention Curfews, have had little impact on the number of women sentenced to prison which continued to grow during the year to 2001 by 9%, compared to 2% for men.”

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