This report describes women in the Allegheny County criminal justice system with a goal of better understanding the population by exploring their demographics and human services history. The analysis describes women at three stages in the criminal justice system: women who had criminal filings, women booked into the Allegheny County Jail (ACJ), and women released from the ACJ.
Key findings include:
- While overall justice system involvement is declining in Allegheny County, the proportion of women involved is growing. For example, between 2008 and 2018, overall rates of incarceration in Allegheny County fell by 32%, but women’s rates of incarceration declined at a slower rate than men’s — a decrease of 23% compared to 34% for men.
- The majority of women booked in the jail were white (59%), but Black women were disproportionately represented when taking population into account: Black women were 4.2 times more likely to be in jail than white women.
- Prior to incarceration, women were more likely than men to have received income supports, used the emergency room, and received mental health and/or drug and alcohol treatment. They were also more likely to access these services after release from jail. These findings highlight the unique needs of women, while also suggesting points of contact where intervention might be effective.