U.S. Prisons Project: The Link Between Incarceration and Violence

Over 90% of women in prison have experienced violence in their lives. (Women in Prison Project, 2005)

One-third of incarcerated women report child sexual abuse and 20% to 34% report abuse by an adult intimate partner; they have multiple abuse histories and are three to four times more likely than male prisoners to have abuse histories. (Gilfus, Mary. “Women’s Experiences of Abuse as a Risk Factor for Incarceration.” VAWnet Applied Research Forum. (December 2002)

An estimated 56% of the abused women in prison said that their abuse had included a rape, and another 13% reported an attempted rape. (Trace L. Snell, Women in Prison, Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991. Bureau of Statistics: March 1994, p.6.)

The women in prison who reported abuse were more likely to be in prison for a violent offense (42% reported prior abuse) and less likely to be serving a sentence for a drug offense (25%) or a property offense (25%). (Tracy L. Snell, Women in Prison, Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991 Bureau of Justice Statistics: March 1994, p.6)

As many as 90% of the women in jail today for killing men had been battered by those men. (Allison Bass, “Women far less likely to kill than men; no one sure why,” The Boston Globe, February 24, 1992, p. 2)