The 2 Major Ways Women Foot the Bill for Male Incarceration

The 2 Major Ways Women Foot the Bill for Male Incarceration

An article on CNN found that women, especially black women, are the ones who are footing most of the cost of males who are incarcerated. Statistics from a study conducted by CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation show that 55% of black Americans either know someone who had been incarcerated or were incarcerated themselves. For many of these black Americans the median annual income is less than $50,000.

And, yet, women are footing the bill both before and after incarceration.


Legal and emotional support

CNN talks to Debra Henderson, who has lived through three men in her life being incarcerated (her ex-husband, current boyfriend, and son). For all three men, she had to foot the bail, lawyer fees and the amount it took to keep in contact while they were in prison — more than $32,000 in total.


Primary wage earner

Once incarceration ends many of the men return back to households where women have become, and remain, the sole wage earners. This because in many cases men have a difficult time securing jobs following their incarceration.

Bruce Western, a sociology professor at Harvard University, explained to CNN, “Experiences like the one Henderson has had ‘ reveal how profoundly gendered the whole incarceration story is.’”


Decreasing incarceration rates in the U.S. (especially amongst non-white males) is important for a variety of reasons, but it’s also crucial to remember that it could be looked at as a feminist issue, too.

Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.