Ohio women prison population exploding

Drug-related crimes in rural counties fuel rise in women prison population

Last month, Ohio set a record for the number of women behind bars, and drugs are to blame, officials said.

State prisons director Gary Mohr said he is alarmed by the increasing number of women in prison, which hit an all-time high the week of July 7 with 4,160 women, eclipsing the record of 4,132 set the week before.

The population first crested 4,000 in June 2013 and has typically remained above that number, regularly changing the record high, especially during the past two months. Drug charges in rural counties are fueling the increase, he said.

“These ladies are highly drug addicted. … The majority of these folks have crimes with their male counterparts, and they’re often not the lead folks in this,” Mohr said.

Cramped quarters

Although female prisoners are typically less violent than male prisoners, Mohr describes the institutions as depressing, crowded and concerning.

“I think of their kids. This is not just them. Children of the incarcerated are six times more likely to be incarcerated themselves,” Mohr said.

Some of the children will be born in prison. According to the monthly prison report, there are 31 women pregnant and three women with babies in the nursery at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.

The maximum capacity at the state’s three female prisons, located in Dayton, Cleveland and Marysville, is 4,266.

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Updated: July 21, 2015 — 12:58 pm