“That cycle of poverty — not a lot of resources, not a lot of jobs, the lack of education, you kind of give up,” said Ms. Martin, 46, who now works as an administrative assistant.


On Wednesday, the Vera Institute of Justice and a program called theSafety and Justice Challenge released a report that found that the number of women in local jails in the United States was almost 14 times what it was in the 1970s, a far higher growth rate than for men, although there remain far fewer women than men in jails and prisons.

The study found that the number of women held in the nation’s 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.

(Over all, the nation’s jail population increased to 745,000 in 2014 from157,000 in 1970.)

Much of the increase in the number of jailed women occurred in counties with fewer than 250,000 people [≈ population of Porto-Novo, capital city of Benin], according to the study, places where just 1,700 women had been incarcerated in 1970. By 2014, however, that number had surged to 51,600, the report said.