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Women's Incarceration in the United States/Tennessee

Nationwide, women's state prison populations grew 834% over 40 years.

(copyright Prison Policy Initiative)


Over the past quarter century, there has been a profound change in the involvement of women within the criminal justice system. This is the result of more expansive law enforcement efforts, stiffer drug sentencing laws, and post-conviction barriers to reentry that uniquely affect women.


In Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, between 52% and 97% of total state prison growth was driven by the growth in women's populations.


Prisons and jails were not built to house women. Even the clothing that the women wear are in men sizes.

  • Women have different physical health needs, including reproductive healthcare,

     management of menopause, nutrition, and very often treatment for substance use disorders. Again, the health systems in prisons — designed for men — frequently fail to meet these basic needs. *In most cases pregnant women who are incarcerated are shackled to their beds while giving birth.   This is an inhumane process!

Research consistently shows that incarcerated women face different problems than men- and prisons often make those problems worse. Some of the major issues affecting incarcerated women are: 

  • History of Sexual Abuse

  • Trauma                            

  • Mental Health Issues     

  • Human Trafficking          

  • Substance Abuse 

  • 80% of the women incarcerated are the primary caretakers. 62% of them having children under the age of 18.


Once released the collateral consequences of incarceration make finding work, housing, and financial support difficult.   It is during this process that most women are reincarcerated because they have difficulty completing the conditions of their parole or probation in order to remain free. In the state of TN there are a limited amount of beds available for women coming out of incarceration. Many women are dropped off with a small plastic bag of personal belongings and a $25.00 check with no viable shelter. These situations can be detrimental as most women will go back into the same environments and situations that precipitated the event that led to incarceration. One of the most important and vital needs for these women are housing.


Free Indeed Ministries "Women's Prison Reentry Program" has developed a 6-12 month faith based curriculum that supports incarcerated women and the issues that led to the incarceration while also assisting with the issues they face after being released. We assist with helping them to adhere to conditions set by Parole/Probation Departments, Department of Children Services to reunite them with their children, we providing clothing, referrals for shelter/permanent housing, spiritual classes, employment assistance, bus passes, Substance Abuse Education, Parenting Classes, Living Free, Social adjusting, referrals for Trauma, etc...Our goal is to reduce the recidivism rate of women being reincarcerated and restore the family unit while empowering women to be productive in their lives, their families and their communities. 
It is said that "It takes a village to raise a child". Although we are helping adults it is vital to their success to have the support of the communities they will be returning to.
Free Indeed Ministries partner with over 40 different agencies and organizations that will help in many different areas as needed to ensure that the basic necessities of these women are met to help them achieve their goals and live a productive and healthy life in their families and communities.
"Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily." Hebrews 13:3

*For more information about Women Incarceration visit:

We appreciate you taking the time to visit our website. If you would like more info about our ministry please give us a call at 865-334-2312 or email us at
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