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Violent Crime Is Down In Texas, But The Number Of Women In Jail Is On The Rise

Harris County jail.
Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Harris County jail.

From Texas Standard.

The Dallas Morning News conducted an investigation this summer about what happens to kids after a mother’s arrest. In the process, they stumbled on an interesting fact – more women are being jailed in Texas, even though arrests of women have dropped.

Investigative reporter Cary Aspinwall found that the number of women in county jails across Texas awaiting trial has increased about 50 percent since 2011.

“I think when we first told people that the volume of women in jails was going up, they assumed it was part of a crime wave,” she says. “But what we know, if you look at Department of Public Safety data and those crime stats that come out every year that are part of the FBI data, there’s actually been a decrease in most crime categories, in most violent crime categories.”

Aspinwall says it sounds puzzling, but there are clear reasons why that’s happening.

“What that tells us is that either people are sitting in there longer because they can’t make bail, or sometimes people go to jail and there’s not necessarily an arrest that would count, because it’s not a new crime,” she says.

She says many of these women are in jail for failure to pay fines to the court, showing up late to a court hearing, or a probation violation.

“So it doesn’t count as a new crime, or a new arrest, but you end up back in jail just the same,” she says.

Written by Jen Rice.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.