AJA President's Initiative

In 2019, the American Jail Association recognized the need for an organizational focus on gender equity nationwide and made Gender Equity one of its standing committees. The goal of the committee is to establish standards, practices, training and programs for jails across America. Read the notes from the committee's October conference call. 

The committee developed this page that AJA hopes will serve as a resource for those addressing Gender Equity in their agencies. If you have something to contribute to this page, please send it to joelh@aja.org.

AJA President Diggins Establishes Gender Equity in Jails initiative

After an incident in 2014, the Denver Sheriff Department established a Gender Equity Commission as part of an effort to create a more gender-responsive environment within its jails. The commission identified solutions that made gains in staffing the women’s housing unit, implemented department policy that allows pregnant deputies to work modified duties, and provided gender-responsive and trauma-informed training for staff, among other achievements.

In 2019, AJA President Elias Diggins established "Gender Equity in Jails Across the Country" as his initiative, and challenged every sheriff, director of corrections and jail administrator in American to create a Gender Equity Commission within their agency. The video above is from the President's Initiative panel on gender equity during AJA's 38th Annual Conference & Jail Expo in Louisville, Kentucky

Diggins recently was a guest on the Topeka K. Sam Show on SiriusXM Radio. President Diggins joined the show's host and Dawn Freeman of the Securus Foundation for a discussion about Gender Equity in Jails across the United States. Listen to a recording of the show.

In October, Diggins was the recipient of the 2019 Legacy Award from the Association of Women Executives in Corrections, an organization that represents many of the most respected leaders in our field. Diggins' receipt of the award is largely attributed to the work AJA has begun with the gender-equity initiative.


National Center for State Courts: Women and Girls in the Justice System

Both the juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems were developed with men and boys in mind. While girls and women are a smaller percentage of the justice system population, they have different histories and needs that must be addressed. Read more.

Vera Institute of Justice: Women in Jails in an Era of Reform

Since 1970, there has been a nearly five-fold increase in the number of people in U.S. jails—the approximately 3,000 county or municipality-run detention facilities that primarily hold people arrested but not yet convicted of a crime.

Despite recent scrutiny from policymakers and the public, one aspect of this growth has received little attention: the shocking rise in the number of women in jail.

Women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the country—increasing 14-fold between 1970 and 2014. Yet there is surprisingly little research on why so many more women wind up in jail today. Read more.

NJLCA Offers Resources Regarding Female Inmates

The National Jail Leadership Command Academy provides its graduates with a list of resources regarding administrative segregation, budget, data analysis in jails, internal jail culture, jail staffing, mental health and jails, and more.

Here are links to the resources regarding female inmates:
Gender Responsive Discipline and Sanctions Policy Guide
Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Women Offenders
Gender Response Strategies for Jails
Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reform for Girls
The Mental Health Crisis Facing Women in Prison
The Particular Challenges of Guarding Women Prisoners
Women’s Pathways to Jail: Examining Mental Health, Trauma, and Substance Abuse

Time: Melinda Gates Investing $1 Billion in Women's Potential

Over the next 10 years, Melinda Gates is committing $1 billion to expanding women’s power and influence in the United States. Her company, Pivotal Ventures, will put resources behind new and established partners taking innovative and diverse approaches to expanding women’s power and influence.

"I want to see more women in the position to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives," Gates says. "I believe that women’s potential is worth investing in—and the people and organizations working to improve women’s lives are, too." Read more.

Lean In: Seven Tips for Men Who Want to Support Equality

If you want to support your female colleagues, here are seven ways to challenge stereotypes, confront bias, and leverage your expertise and clout to benefit women in your network.