Women Behind Bars

Nearly 2,000 women are imprisoned in Alabama. A 52 percent jump since 1995. A new state panel is now considering ways to reduce that number.

Grace White was sentenced to 20 years in prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from her workplace in 2002.

Cases like Grace's that have prompted the governor to find ways to reduce the number of women behind bars.

“We only have one prison in Tutweiler and that's not enough with the rising number of drug cases,” said Judge Lawson Little.

Judge Little says women aren't usually involved in violent crimes but most often trafficking meth check fraud charges and shoplifting.

The new panel is focusing on rehabilitation and restoring women with better services.

The Houston County Community Corrections are a program the judges use to help keep women out of the prison system.

The correction program lets offenders work during the day, but live in confinement.

Another program in Houston County is the pre trial diversion program keeping non violent offenders from going to jail.

“All goes back to lack of funding in prison just lack of space in prison for men and women,” said Judge Larry Anderson.

The new panel is an effort to address the underlying factors to keep women like white from committing these crimes.

The new panel is looking at women in jail, prison, and those on probation and parole.