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Criminal Justice System and Gender

In the United States, the criminal justice (CJ) system is a social institution designed to prevent crime and protect public safety through the use of strategies that focus on controlling individual behaviors. These strategies rest on criminological and psychological knowledge about criminal offending, including personality, cognitive, and environmental factors that influence involvement in unlawful activities. However, until the end of the 20th century, little attention and effort were directed toward understanding how gender shaped criminal trajectories and CJ responses to law-breaking behaviors. For the most part, the research that guides CJ practices has been conducted on male offenders, who represent the vast majority of correctional populations (between 85% and 89% in 2013). It has produced information that is not generalizable to girls and women’s ...

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