Although women still comprise a small percentage of the total prison population in countries in North America, Western Europe, and Latin America, their numbers have been rising in the past two decades. This article is a literature review of a new and dynamic field of scholarship that maintains that this increase is a byproduct of three interrelated factors: the war on drugs, globalization, and prison building. First, using international pressure, the United States has imposed its federalized and militarized drug war on the governments of other nations. Second, the transfer of U.S.-led neoliberal economic policies, fueled by globalization, has marginalized poor women of color in modern and developing nations. As a result, many of these women have become involved in criminalized behaviors, including drug trafficking, as a means of economic survival. In this post-September 11 environment, transborder crossings are closely monitored, increasing the likelihood of arrest. Third, in an effort to contain surplus populations created by economic restructuring the United States has promoted a social policy of mass incarceration. The union of these three factors results in the greater likelihood of the arrest, detainment, prosecution, and imprisonment of poor women of color. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the experiences of women in global prisons and recommends strategies to curtail women’s imprisonment.


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pp. 72-95
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