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United States. : American prisons are hell. For women, they’re even worse [video]

The U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country–over two million. Roughly 200,000 of them are female. But existing American prisons are often ill-equipped to handle the specific needs of women and girls. Amna Nawaz talks to Andrea James, a lawyer and former federal inmate who founded the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, about her experience.

Judy Woodruff. But now, the U.S. locks more people up than any other country. More than two million Americans are in jails or prisons here, and more than 200,000 of those prisoners are female.

Amna Nawaz. Judy, nearly 30 percent of all incarcerated women worldwide are in the United States. And the number of women in U.S. prisons has risen more than 700 percent in the last 40 years.
With that increase came a recognition that men and women in custody have different needs. Now, earlier this year, the Department of Justice’s inspector general conducted a review of how the Federal Bureau of Prisons handles female inmates. Leaders from both organizations testified today on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns about prison conditions. The report, released in September, made several recommendations.
Among them, provide better training for staff on needs of women and trauma victims.

More than 85 percent of women in prison reported some physical or sexual trauma in their lifetime.

Increase awareness of pregnancy programs for inmates. Just 37 percent of pregnant inmates participate in programs. And increase access to feminine hygiene products.

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