Female arrests increase 400 percent

AMARILLO, Texas---With a surge in the number of women behind bars, space is tightening in jails across America and right here in the Panhandle.

It's no secret that for years, the jail has been dealing with an overcrowding problem.

With no money or room for expansion, options tend to be limited.

According to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of women in prisons across America increased 400 percent from 1985 to 2006.

The Potter Co. Jail can hold 96 inmates.

Last week, the jail saw a female population of 99, some of which stayed in the jail's infirmary.

Potter Co. Sheriff Brian Thomas is well aware of the growing female inmate population.

"They are more active in crimes today," he said. "Whether it's identity theft of narcotics, they're just as involved as the guys are now."

Another factor that may lead females to a life of crime may stem from family issues too.

"Broken families can play a role," James Rush with Texas Tech's psychiatry department said. "Being raised by a single parent family often has an impact and they themselves often end up in bad family situations."

When tempers flare and emotions run high, psychiatrists' say females are more likely to throw themselves into dangerous situations.

You may recall, Potter Co. recently renewed its contract with the Childress Jail to bus overflow inmates there.

As of now, we're told that has not happened yet and will only happen as a last resort.