Gender bars: Females increasingly populate Fayette jail


When it comes to crime and jail time, many people assume that jail cells are predominantly populated with males. And while that is true, the Fayette County Jail during the past year has seen increasing numbers of females occupying bed space. The two-year high for females incarcerated came during July-September 2013 when 303 females spent time in the Fayette jail.

Sheriff Barry Babb said there are a number of factors that have resulted in increased number of female inmates. A likely candidate for those increases could be linked to the continuing lackluster economy. In general terms, the increase in females being arrested can be attributed to crimes such as shoplifting, drug and alcohol offenses, theft and identity theft, Babb said.

While the numbers of females spending time in the Fayette jail is far surpassed by the number of males, quarterly information supplied by the sheriff’s office and spanning the past two years showed an increase in each quarter of 2013 compared to the previous year.

Reports from each quarter for the past two years shows a minimum of 200 females spending one or more days in jail. Figures show increasing numbers of incarcerations as each year progresses.

The low of 201 females came January-March 2012. Figures for the same period in 2013 showed 218.

Figures for April-June 2012 showed 224 arrests compared to 254 for the same period this year.

The largest jump came in the July-September period when 230 females were arrested in 2012 compared to the 303 arrested during the same period in 2013.

The October-December period in 2012 showed 260 arrests while the figures for October through mid-December this year showed 253 arrests.

A sampling of the arrest records during the past few months shows females arrested for the crimes noted by Babb along with other offenses such as reckless driving, probation violation, bench warrants and a variety of traffic violations.

Babb said total beds occupied for both males and females ranged from a low of 231 to a high of nearly 400. The average number of total beds occupied is in the range of 250-260, Babb said.

The Fayette County Jail has a capacity of 394 beds, including male and female accommodations and those located in the infirmary. Of those, the current capacity for female inmates is 64 beds. Babb said there have been a couple of occasions this year where the number of female inmates exceeded 64. Once exceeded, temporary bedding is brought in, Babb said.

While it is obvious that male and female inmates are separated, those unfamiliar with jail regulations might be surprised to learn that federal classification regulations pertaining to jails also require that inmates be housed in jail cells according to the charged offense. For example, classification rules state that those jailed for more serious crimes be segregated from those charged with less serious crimes. Similarly, younger offenders such as those 17 years of age are housed in different cells than older offenders.

So while the jail has 394 total beds, conforming to federal rules sometimes makes accommodating the various segments of the jail population more difficult, Babb said, adding that the upcoming jail renovation will make segregating the population according to federal rules easier to accomplish.

Babb said the Fayette County Jail is primarily a pre-trial detention center where persons accused of crimes that cannot bond out await their court dates.

The jail also houses persons sentenced to serve up to 12 months and persons sentenced for more serious crimes until space is available at state facilities, said Babb.