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 Female Offender: Girls, Women and Crime, Third Edition redresses these issues.

In an engaging style, authors Meda Chesney-Lind and Lisa Pasko explore gender and cultural factors in women's lives that often precede criminal behavior and address the question of whether female offenders are more violent today than in the past. The authors provide a revealing look at how public discomfort with the idea of women as criminals significantly impacts the treatment received by this offender population. The text covers additional topics such the interaction of sexism, racism, and social class inequalities that results in an increase of female offenders, as well as the imprisonment binge that has resulted in an increasing number of girls and women being incarcerated.

Girls' Troubles and “Female Delinquency”
Girls' troubles and “female delinquency”

Every year, girls account for nearly a third of all arrests of young people in America (FBI, 2010a, p. 239). Despite this, the young women who find themselves in the juvenile justice system either by formal arrest or referral are almost completely invisible. Our stereotype of the juvenile delinquent is so indisputably male that the general public, those experts whose careers in criminology have been built studying “delinquency,” and those practitioners working with delinquent youth, rarely consider girls and their problems.

The next three chapters argue that this invisibility has worked against young women in several distinct ways. First, as this chapter shows, despite the fact that a considerable number of girls are arrested, explanations for the ...

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