The Female Offender: Girls, Women, and Crime

The Female Offender: Girls, Women, and Crime

Books

Meda Chesney-Lind & Lisa Pasko

Abstract

Scholarship in criminology over the last few decades has often left little room for research and theory on how female offenders are perceived and handled in the criminal justice system. In truth, one out of every four juveniles arrested is female and the population of women in prison has tripled in the past decade. Co-authored by Meda Chesney-Lind, one of the pioneers in the development of the feminist theoretical perspective in criminology, the subject matter of The Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime, Second Edition redresses the balance by providing critical insight into these issues. Bringing much-needed attention to the state of these often "invisible" wrongdoers, The Female Offender enlightens and intrigues readers including academics, researchers, and students in the areas of criminology, criminal justice, ...

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    Acknowledgments

    This book, like its first edition, took too long; fortunately, this round there are two of us to share the blame, which is only one of many reasons to collaborate. Also long is the list of folks who have made us think about things, helped us with ideas, and basically kept us honest.

    For Meda—I once again have to thank my colleagues in the Women's Studies Program, the Department of Sociology, and at the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for their support. The freedom to write and think as I do comes from having a great workplace—one that celebrates rather than condemns work on girls and women. Special thanks this round goes to Kathy Berg, Dick Dubanoski, Kathy Ferguson, Konia Freitas, Michael Hamnett, Katherine Irwin, David Johnson, Morris Lai, Nancy Marker, and David Mayeda, and for their encouragement and enthusiasm for my work over the years.

    For Lisa—I would like to extend many thanks to friends, family, and colleagues who have continuously given me emotional support and always offered avid interest in the book's completion. To name a few, my parents, Jean and Eugene Pasko, as well as Laura Alba, Christopher Bondy, Marilyn Brown, Janet Davidson, Moira Denike, Terri Hurst, Michael Kohan, JD McWilliams, Don Orban, Andrew Ovenden, Stephen Scheele, Michael Skorupka, Tina Slivka, Stephanie Smith, and most especially, Rick Vonderhaar, for his unending technical and helpful assistance.

    Both of us are fortunate in our community. Hawaii is such a rich and wonderful social environment within which to work and live. Close association with the Office of Youth Services and the many social service and public agencies with whom they work has greatly enriched our life and work. Bernie Campbell, David Del Rosario, Rodney Goo, Carl Imakyure, Cheryl Johnson, Dee Dee Letts, Bert Matsuoka, David Nakada, Bob Nakata, Tony Pfaltzgraff, Suzanne Toguchi, have kept us in touch with the youth of Hawaii and their issues. Jo DesMarets, Marcy Brown, Martha Torney, Marian Tsuji, and Louise Robinson have given us much needed help in understanding the issues for adult women offenders. All of these folks have kept us in the community and closer to the reality we want and need to write about.

    No work of this scope, though, could have been considered without an equally rich national and international community of scholars with whom we shared ideas, expressed frustration, and plotted strategies. Many of these folks are scholar/activists so their work is enriched by their commitment to seek not only the truth but also social justice. Meda extends deep thanks here to Christine Alder, Joanne Belknap, Barbara Bloom, Lee Bowker, Mickey Eliason, Kathy Daly, Mona Danner, Walter Dekeseredy, Kim English, Karlene Faith, Laura Fishman, John Hagedorn, Tracy Huling, Ron Huff, Russ Immarigeon, Ken Polk, Dan Macallair, Mike Males, Marc Mauer, Merry Morash, Barbara Owen, Nicky Rafter, Robin Robinson, Andrea Shorter, Brenda Smith, Vinnie Schiraldi, Marty Schwartz, Francine Sherman, and last but certainly not least, Randy Shelden.

    Nationally and internationally, practitioner/scholars have insisted that they be listened to as well—to understand how girls and women they work with in their communities live. Here we must thank Ilene Bergsman, Alethea Camp, Ellen Clarke, Elaine DeConstanzo, Sue Davis, Jane Higgins, Elaine Lord, Judy Mayer, Andie Moss, C'ana Petrick, Ann McDiarmid, and Paula Schaefer for keeping this work in touch with their reality. Also, wonderful journalists who care about girls and women have worked with me to publicize their situation while also doing important muckraking work that criminologists should have done and would have in better days. Special thanks here to Gary Craig, Adrian Le Blanc, Kitsie Watterson, Nina Siegal, Elizabeth Mehren, and Marie Ragghianti.

    Most important, our heartfelt thanks tothe girls and women who found themselves in the criminal justice system for having the courage to speak the truth in the face of extraordinary pain. Many of these girls and women must remain anonymous, but fortunately not all. Thanks, most of all, to Linda Nunes for her friendship after so many years, and for giving the hope that women can make it through such systems and survive with integrity. Thanks also to Dale Gilmartin for her help with the girls' issue and her courage to write about her own experience, and to Michelle Alvey for her strength, courage, and trust. we hope that we've done justice to your insights and your experiences.

    Finally, thanks to Jerry Westby for never giving up hope that this book would appear. Thanks also to Denise Santoyo and Vonessa Vondera for the final push over the top, and a huge thanks to our students Christina Woo and Pavela Fiaui for their intellectual and practical support as we tried to pull all this information together.

    Meda Chesney-Lind
    Lisa Pasko
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    About the Authors

    Meda Chesney-Lind, Ph.D., is Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has served as Vice President of the American Society of Criminology and president of the Western Society of Criminology. Nationally recognized for her work on women and crime, her books include Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice (1992), which was awarded the American Society of Criminology's Michael J. Hindelang Award for the “outstanding contribution to criminology, 1992,” The Female Offender: Girls, Women, and Crime (1997), Female Gangs in America (1999), and Invisible Punishment (2002). She is currently at work on an edited collection, Girls, Women, and Crime, in addition to this update of The Female Offender. She received the Bruce Smith, Sr., Award “for outstanding contributions to Criminal Justice” from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in April 2001. She was named a fellow of the American Society of Criminology in 1996 and has also received the Herbert Block Award for service to the society and the profession from the American Society of Criminology. She has also received the Donald Cressey Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency for “outstanding contributions to the field of criminology,” the Founders award of the Western Society of Criminology for “significant improvement of the quality of justice,” and the University of Hawaii Board of Regent's Medal for “Excellence in Research.”

    In Hawaii, Chesney-Lind has served as Principal Investigator of a longstanding project on Hawaii's youth gang problem funded by the State of Hawaii Office of Youth Services. She has more recently also received funding to conduct research on the unique problems of girls' at risk of becoming delinquent from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Finally, she has also been tapped by the Hawaii Department of Public Safety to serve on an advisory panel on the problems of women in prison in Hawaii.

    Lisa Pasko is a Sociology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She received her master's degree in sociology from the University of Nevada, Reno, and has been involved in criminal justice research for more than 7 years. She is currently Project Coordinator for the University of Hawaii at Manoa Youth Gang Project. In 1999, she was Student Representative for the Western Society of Criminology, and in 2000 she received the American Society of Criminology, Critical Criminology Division, first place graduate paper award for her manuscript “Criminal Justice in the Mother Tongue: A Feminist Critique of Restorative Justice.” Her publications include an examination of ethnic disparities in federal drug offense sentencing and an investigation of stripping in Hawaii. In addition to drug and sex work research, her interests include girls and the juvenile justice system, masculinities and crime, and gender theory.


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