Alabama has convened a new state panel, The Commission on Girls and Women in the Criminal Justice System, to examine the rise in women prisoners and find new ways to address the needs of the female prisoner population. Since 2000, the number of women imprisoned in Alabama has risen by 53 percent, reports the Associated Press, in keeping with nationally increasing numbers of incarcerated women.
State Representative Barbara Boyd (D) sponsored the legislation to create this committee, and will chair it as well. She told the Associated Press, “Most women in the criminal justice system have a history of physical, sexual or drug abuse that should be treated,” and hopes to shift the focus from punishment to rehabilitation. Other committee members include representatives of Youth Services, as well as the state departments of Human Resources, Public Health and Mental Illness and Mental Retardation. They are expected to issue a report in fall of 2007, reports Birmingham News, which will include recommendations on gender-specific parole guidelines, ensuring access to mental health, educational and rehabilitation programs, and other ways in ensure gender equity in the prison system.