25% of women incarcerated in state prison in Minnesota are African-American
In spite of Minnesota's low incarceration rate, African-Americans in general and African-American women in particular, are substantially over-represented in the prison population in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Corrections, 25 percent of women incarcerated in state prison in Minnesota are Black or African-American.
This represents a rate of five times their percentage of the population in the state.
When women are sentenced to serve time in prison in Minnesota, they are sent to the Shakopee Minnesota Women's Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison that currently houses about 470 women.
Although the number of females incarcerated in Minnesota is considerably lower than the number of incarcerated men, women face additional systemic issues related to child rearing and chemical dependency that must be acknowledged. Most of the women serving time in Shakopee are single mothers of children under age eighteen. When these mothers are incarcerated, their children may be sent to live with relatives or may be placed in the child welfare system.
Many of these women also have significant histories of sexual and physical abuse that may have contributed to their propensity to use drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms. For example, 85 percent of women serving time in Shakopee are believed to have chemical abuse or dependency issues; 50 percent of the women have mental illnesses and 40 percent are taking psychotropic medications.
While many of these women were sexually abused as children, they were more likely to have experienced abusive physical relationships as adults.
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