Number of Incarcerated

Women at All-Time High

The number of women in state and federal prisons is at an all-time high and is growing fast, with the incarceration rate for women increasing at nearly twice that of men, the Justice Department reported yesterday.

There were 101,179 women in prisons last year, 3.6 percent more than in 2002, the government said. That marks the first time the female prison population has topped 100,000, and continues a trend of rapid growth.

Men are still far more likely than women to be in jail or prison, and black men are more likely than any other group to be locked up.

At the close of 2003, U.S. prisons held 1,368,866 men, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported. The total was 2 percent more than in 2002.

Expressed in terms of the population at large, that means that in 2003, one in every 109 U.S. men was in prison. For women, the figure was one in every 1,613.

The increase began three decades ago. The number of women in prison grew 48 percent between 1995 and 2003. The male prison population grew 29 percent over that time, from 1,057,406.

Year by year, the number of women incarcerated grew an average of 5 percent, compared with an average annual increase of 3.3 percent for men.

The prison figures do not fully reflect the number of people behind bars. About 80,000 women were in local jails last year, along with more than 600,000 men.

Man Arrested in Protest

At Church to Be Closed

WINCHESTER, Mass. -- A parishioner was arrested for refusing to leave a church targeted for closure by the Boston Archdiocese as part of a restructuring.

Gene Sweeney, 69, was charged with trespassing after he was removed Saturday night from Immaculate Conception Church in the Boston suburb of Winchester. He was released on $40 bail.

Parishioners from at least eight churches are conducting sit-ins to protest the archdiocese's plan to close or consolidate 82 of its 357 parishes. The restructuring was prompted in part by economic trouble caused by the clergy sex abuse scandal.

The archdiocese has not disrupted the vigils, but Sweeney's arrest marked the first time a church official has had a parishioner forcibly removed.

Flu Season Starting Slowly

Nationally, CDC Chief Says

The flu season is starting slowly, but it is too early to tell how severe the outbreak will be as the nation faces a vaccine shortage, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Texas and New York have reported localized outbreaks, and sporadic cases have turned up in other states, Julie L. Gerberding said at the American Public Health Association's annual conference. No states have widespread activity, and some states have reported none.

-- From News Services