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.
Trends in Women's Crime
Women's crime, like girls' crime, is deeply affected by women's place. As a result, women's contribution to serious and violent crime—like that of girls—is minor. Of those adults arrested for serious crimes of violence in 2009 (murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), only 19% were female. Indeed, women constituted only 24.4% of all arrests during that year (FBI, 2010a, p. 239). This also means that adult women are an even smaller percentage of those arrested than their girl counterparts (who now comprise nearly one out of three juvenile arrests).
Moreover, the majority of adult women offenders, like girls, are arrested and tried for relatively minor offenses. In 2009, women were most likely to be arrested for larceny theft ...