In an attempt to reignite the legislative push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) recently commented that there will be a continued increase in the amount of female prisoners without the constitutional change. However, fact-checkers were quick to label that assertion “astronomically wrong” after delving into the origins of some of the far-fetched facts used by the Democratic legislator.
“The number of women behind bars in Virginia is skyrocketing and the criminal justice system can’t keep pace,” she said during a March 15 radio interview on WAMU. “Women in Virginia have been incarcerated at an increasingly high rate. It’s around [a] 300 percent increase in the past four or five years.”
After the interview, Politifact set out to bring some truth to such an “eye-popping claim.”
“At the end of 2013, there were about 5,700 women inmates in jails and prisons, and that rose to around 6,700 in June 2018,” the fact-checker’s report stated. Although an 18 percent increase in the amount of women incarcerated should not be taken lightly, the jump is just a small fraction of the 300 percent surge Delegate Kory claimed.
Reportedly, Kory explained that she had read about the monumental increase “several years ago” in a Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) article. After one of the delegate’s aides said she had misspoken on radio, he then stated, “She meant to say there’s been a five-fold increase, nationally, in female incarceration since 2001.”
However, not only are those statistics incorrect, the RTD never reported anything like what Kory stated.
According to data published by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, 161,200 women were held in prisons and jails in 2001, and about 218,800 were incarcerated in mid-2016, which equals a 36 percent increase since 2001, not the “five-fold increase” Delegate Kory or her aide claimed.
In conclusion, Politifact said: “Kory’s numbers are astronomically wrong, and we rate her statement False.”