Most Women in Prison Are Victims of Domestic Violence. That’s Nothing New

View through prison bars of dormitory bunks at Mississippi State Penitentiary (or Parchman Farm), Mississippi, 1964. (Photo by Robert Elfstrom/Villon Films/Gety Images)



Most women in prison are incarcerated for committing crimes in self-defense.

Of the population of women in prison, some 86 percent of them are victims of sexual abuse. And many incarcerated women are guilty of crimes that include defending themselves.

This week’s Divided States of Women digs into this statistic and the injustice of incarcerating women who defend themselves from abusers. We talk to two women, both formerly incarcerated, about their stories and a policy that could potentially change the fate of many of these women.