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2. WOMEN IN ILLINOIS CORRECTIONS SYSTEMS

WOMEN’S INCARCERATION IN ILLINOIS In the year 2000, 2,663 women served sentences in Illinois prisons.i

  • 59 percent of inmates in Illinois prisons are arrested in Cook County.ii

  • 22 percent are sentenced for property offenses.iii

  • 26 percent are sentenced for drug-related offenses.iv

  • 76 percent of state prison inmates had one or more prior sentences.v

WOMEN’S DETENTION IN COOK COUNTY The Cook County Department of Corrections detained 8,196 women in 1990 and 15,521 in 1999, an 89 percent increase.vi In the month of June 2001 (latest figures avail- able), 1,355 women were booked.

82 percent of all women detained at Cook County Jail in October 2001 were charged with non-violent offenses. The top three offenses were drug-related, prostitution and theft.

The majority (60%) of women reported having been arrested and detained within two months of the survey. Their lifetime experiences with Cook County Jail are as follows:

  • 31 percent reported having been detained once.

  • 45 percent reported having been detained 2 to 5 times.

  • 13 percent reported having been detained 6 to 10 times.

  • 11 percent reported having been detained more than 10 times.

    • 3.

      CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES

MAJOR FINDING: Women in jail are survivors of childhood violence at twice the national average.

Of those interviewed, 13 percent had been wards of the state while growing up; 21 percent said they had experienced homelessness before the age of 18. While growing up:

  • 39 percent lived only with a mother.

  • 37 percent of women lived with both parents.

  • 10 percent lived with grandparents.

  • 6 percent lived in some other arrangement.

  • 4 percent lived only with a father.

  • 3 percent lived with other relatives.

  • 0.4 percent lived in a foster home or group home.

PARENTS Many women reported that while growing up they lived with a single parent who completed high school or got a GED.

Mother’s education:

High school diploma or GED 42%

19%

2-8 yrs education

9%

12-15 yrs education

9-11 yrs education

11%

19%

college graduate

Father’s education:

High school diploma or GED 40%

24%

2-8 yrs education

12-15 yrs education

9%

8%

19%

college graduate

9-11 yrs education

PARENT PROFILE Of the women surveyed, 54 percent reported that a parent or someone else they lived with when growing up had an alcohol abuse problem; 27 percent reported that a parent or someone else they lived with when growing up had drug abuse problem; 26 percent reported that a parent or someone else they lived with when growing up had an emotional or mental health problem. Of those surveyed, 23 percent said that a parent or someone else they lived with for a year or longer when growing up had spent time in jail or prison.

i

ii

iii

iv

v

Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) data, 2001. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. United States General Accounting Office, Prisoner Releases: Trends and Information on Reintegration Programs, June 2001.

vi

Department of Women’s Justice Services-Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

CHICAGO COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS 5

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