When researchers compiled data on women incarcerated within the United States in 1970, they concluded there were 8,000 women being held in jails. Just one-quarter of counties within the United States housed women in its jails. When researching women incarcerated in 2014, it was concluded there were almost 110,000 women in jails. They can be found in the jails of counties throughout the United States. It’s understandably hard to form a mental picture of 110,000 women in jail. That is 110,000 different personalities, 110,000 different faces, many of them mothers, ill, and survivors of trauma. I’m imagining an entire city of women to help put this in perspective. More men are involved in the justice system than women, but the population of women in correctional facilities is growing at a faster rate than that of men. The quick growth is fueled by the focus on policing disadvantaged communities and implementing harsh punishment to those who commit low-level crimes, also referred to as broken windows policing.
Broken windows policing was introduced to the public in 1982 by criminologist George Kelling, who has since admitted the practice is being misused by police. He believes without proper training, depending solely on police officers to maintain order will cause a negative effect on our communities. The broken windows theory claims that all crime begins with disorder and the way to prevent major crimes, like rape and murder, is to crack down on the smaller, pettier crimes first. To law enforcers and city officials, things such as abandoned cars and buildings, groups of people gathered outside and graffiti can be seen as disorder.
Disorder is split into two categories, physical and behavioral, and, classifying an area as disorderly has everything to do with image. Physical disorder is visual cues that are stereotypically synonymous with crime, the cues are the abandoned cars, graffiti, and litter I mentioned earlier. A person looking to commit a crime will view these community characteristics as a sign that getting caught is unlikely. Law enforcement will view them as a sign to heavily police the area- if there is physical disorder than behavioral disorder will follow.