25 US states have higher incarceration rates for women than any country in the world

The US jails more women than China or Russia.
The US jails more women than China or Russia.
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
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The US is home to 5% of the world’s women, and imprisons a whopping 30% of all incarcerated females in the world.

According to new data compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative, 25 American states have higher incarceration rates than any other jurisdiction in the world–in other words, if states were countries, West Virginia would have the highest imprisonment rate on Earth, with 273 female prisoners per 100,000. The first actual country on the list is Thailand, which jails 130 women per 100,000.

“Illinois’ incarceration rate for women is on par with El Salvador, where abortion is illegal and women are jailed for having miscarriages. New Hampshire is on par with Russia, and New York with Rwanda,” the report says.

The US still jails many more men than women, but the number of women in US detention facilities has increased exponentially in recent decades. One of the issues that they face in a prison system geared toward men, is their treatment during pregnancy, which includes limited access to healthcare and the practice of shackling during birth.