Women Beyond Bars: An exploration of the causes and effects of the mass incarceration of women in West Virginia
In 1989, 80 women were sentenced to prison in West Virginia. At that time, women served their time at Pruntytown Correctional Center in Taylor County. The facility was a men’s prison where quarters were adapted for the small number of West Virginia women with felony convictions. By 2003, 14 years later, the state had spent $24.5 million to open Lakin Correctional Center, a maximum security prison with 302 beds, to deal with the rapidly growing number of women serving prison sentences in the state.
Three years later, in 2006, the state spent another $6.2 million to expand the facility to 462 beds. In 2016, 622 women were sentenced to prison, an increase of more than 677% from 1989.
Though Lakin expanded to 584 beds in 2019, it was not large enough to hold the 771 women serving time. More than a quarter of those women were incarcerated at regional jails without access to trade skills development and some rehabilitation programs. Less than half the women at Lakin have a high school diploma; a majority are mothers, and 104 have given birth there since 2006.
mass incarceration, West Virginia, women