Loretta Lynch leads action against gender disparities in the criminal justice system

Loretta Lynch leads action against gender disparities in the criminal justice system

Loretta Lynch, former U.S. attorney general and chair of the Commission on Women’s Justice, is leading a new initiative aimed at addressing gender disparities in the criminal justice system. AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster

Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was named Tuesday to lead the new Commission on Women’s Justice, an initiative of the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) aimed at addressing the unique challenges faced by women in the criminal justice system.

Lynch, who previously served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is joined by 15 other leaders from a variety of fields, including law enforcement, legislation, the courts, corrections, medicine, research and advocacy. The commission’s inaugural meeting will be held Tuesday in New York City and will include a visit to a Brooklyn program for justice-involved women.

“The unique challenges women face in our criminal justice system too often go unnoticed and unaddressed,” Lynch said. “We can and must do better to reduce the number of women who end up in the justice system, help them maintain relationships with their children and families while incarcerated, and provide them with the support they need to thrive upon release.”

The group said the creation of the Women’s Justice Commission was a response to worrying trends: Women now account for more than a quarter of adult arrests and are increasingly the victims of violent crimes. The incarceration rate for women has also risen sharply, while that for men has fallen.

The commission released two comprehensive reports at Tuesday’s meeting: “Justice for Women: A Preliminary Assessment of Women in the Criminal Justice System” and “Justice for Women: By the Numbers.” The reports show an increase in arrests of women for violent and drug-related crimes and explain that a significant proportion of incarcerated women are primary caregivers of minor children.