Number Of Women Behind Bars Shooting Up - - The News for South Mississippi

Number Of Women Behind Bars Shooting Up

Cindy Greeno has been behind bars at the Harrison County jail for nearly three years. She says she sees more women coming in and fewer leaving.

"When I first came in we could be in our own sections maybe two in each cell. Since then, and that was in 1999, we have probably up to 15 people on the day room floor at one time sometimes," Greeno said.

The women say living together in such tight quarters isn't easy.

"You have to try to deal with everybody's personality," Clarissa Jackson said. "Like I'm a block trusty, and I have to serve the food and a lot of different personalities all coming towards me, a lot of animosity and we just have to deal with it."

Greeno and Jackson say it seems like county and state jails are designed more with men in mind. And with the number of women inmates growing, the warden agrees that women's needs should be addressed.

"In particular, our clothing. We have unisex clothing with the exception of the underwear. We just have one type, tops and bottoms," Major Dianne Gatson-Riley said.

The women are housed in three sections of the jail, and with an average of 80 a day, Gatson-Riley say that's not enough.

"If we have a disciplinarian problem in the area, there is nowhere we can separate them like we do the males. What we're finding is that the supervising area has to do is just lock 'them down in the cell alone," she said.

There's another reason for the cramped women's quarters in most jails. Gatson-Riley says unlike 15 or 20 years ago, women are committing more serious crimes, felonies that carry longer sentences requiring the women to stay behind bars longer.

By Marcia Hill

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