Males are arrested far more than females - yet the number of women in prison is skyrocketing

woman in jail by is licensed under Canva
Originally written for Crime in America. Republished with permission.


We’ve been looking at data from the FBI for 2022 (the latest yearly numbers) examining an array of crime topics. The final three include arrests by race, age, and sex.

It seems that the number of women offenders arrested is growing based on incarceration data.

Data Used

What’s below is data from the FBI (crimes reported to law enforcement).

Even though this article is based on crimes reported to law enforcement compiled by the FBI in 2022 (latest yearly data) and the first three quarters of 2023, violent crime rates and totals from the 2022 National Crime Victimization Survey are important for understanding the impact of violent crime on groups.


This is the thirteenth in a series offering data from the FBI’s latest crime reports based on crimes reported to law enforcement. The first was Locations Of Violent Crime-Where Crime Happens.  The second was The Time Of Day For Violent And Property Crimes. The third was Violent Crime Totals By State. The fourth was Violent Crime Victims By Race And Ethnicity-Who’s Victimized Most? The fifth was Are Females Violently Victimized More Than Males? The sixth is Most People Are Violently Victimized By Family Members Or People They Know. The seventh is 10 Percent Of Violent Victimizations Involved A Firearm-Weapons Used During Crime. The eighth is Most Crimes Are Not Solved-Why? The ninth is 250,000 Attempted But Failed Property Crimes Per The FBI-Reasons Why. The tenth is What Causes Murders And Aggravated Assaults? The eleventh was Crime Victims By Age-Those 50 And Above Have Surprisingly High Numbers. The twelfth is Understanding How The US Collects Reported Crime Data.

Most Crimes Are Not Reported

Per the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice, only 42 percent of violent crimes are reported to law enforcement.

Thirty-two percent of property crimes are reported. The great majority of what we call crime are property-related events which means that most crime is not recorded by the FBI.

Nevertheless, the numbers below from the FBI are some of the best indicators we have regarding the total number of “reported” crimes and the characteristics of those crimes.

This article will fall under the category of “tell me something I don’t know.” By far, men are arrested more than females.

But considering that the next topics in this series from the FBI (via the full-year reports for 2022) focus on arrests by race and age, it seemed appropriate to include the sex of those arrested.

I focus on females in the justice system because male offenders get 90 percent of the academic and media coverage.

Men Commit The Most Crimes Yet Women Are The Fastest Growing Segment Of The Prison Population

There are articles addressing the fact that women offenders are the fastest-growing segment of the overall prison population. It seems that the number of women offenders arrested is growing.

However, finding the latest data on arrests by females proved to be a daunting task. There’s interesting research available but it’s dated. The latest report on women in the federal justice system is available from the US Sentencing Commission.

From Vera: “The number of women incarcerated in the United States has skyrocketed in the last four decades, increasing 475 percent in 40 years. In 2019, there were more than 231,000 women and girls held in prisons and jails across the country. It’s hard to believe that 50 years ago, almost 75 percent of counties held not a single woman in jail.”

“Women have become the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population. Although men’s jail populations actually fell 9 percent from 2008 to 2018, women’s jail populations grew 15 percent. Women’s incarceration rates are also climbing at double the rate of men’s in state prisons across the country.”

Georgetown: “Women are currently the fastest-growing segment of America’s prison population. The number of incarcerated women in the United States has increased by 750% since 1980, and there are currently over 200,000 women in American prisons and jails.”

NIH: “In 2019, 18–21% of all violent crimes were committed by women (based on violent crime data where the offender’s sex was known (). Between 2014 and 2019, women perpetrating violent crimes increased by 4.5% (). With over 90,000 violent crimes committed by women in 2019, there is a clear need to understand the correlates of female violence, and more specifically to understand the prevalence and correlates of gun violence.”

Latest Arrest Numbers

Beyond prostitution and embezzlement, by far, most of those arrested are males.

Categories of women arrested that are half or more of those of male offenders arrested include fraud, larceny, animal cruelty, and family offenses.

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