Background Cervical carcinoma remains the second leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide and sexual behavior is regarded as the main contributing factor. We studied cervical cytology screening with surgical biopsy follow-up in women prisoners and compared the findings to those in the general population. Methods We reviewed 1024 conventional cervical smears, 73 cervical biopsies and 2 loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) specimens referred to us from the Correctional Center in Columbus, Ohio during a 12-month period. The results were compared to 40,993 Pap smears from the general population for the same 12-month period. Results High grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HGSIL) was diagnosed in 1.3% of the cervical smears from the inmate population versus 0.6% in the general population (p < 0.01). The unsatisfactory rate was 1.6% compared to 0.3% in the general population (p < 0.01). Among the study population, follow-up tissue diagnosis was obtained in 24.3% of the abnormal cytology results (ASCUS, LGSIL, and HGSIL). Of the HGSIL Pap smears, 61.5% had a subsequent tissue diagnosis. Thirty-nine biopsies (52% of the all inmate biopsies and LEEP) showed CIN II/III (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia II/III). Eight of these thirty-nine follow-up biopsies diagnosed as CIN II/III had a previous cervical cytology diagnosis of ASCUS. The average age for HGSIL was 30.5 years (S.D. = 5.7) and for low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (LGSIL) was 27.2 years (S.D. = 6.1). Conclusion A significantly higher prevalence of HGSIL cervical cytology and unsatisfactory smears was encountered in female inmates, with tissue follow-up performed in less than two thirds of the patients with HGSIL. These results are in keeping with data available in the literature suggesting that the inmate population is high-risk and may be subject to less screening and tissue follow-up than the general population. Clinicians should proceed with urgency to improve screening and follow-up with treatment. The inmate population should be targeted for HPV vaccination promptly after FDA approval.