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Ch. 9 – Gender, Crime, and Justice

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1 Ch. 9 – Gender, Crime, and Justice
Robert Wonser

2 Some information… In 1894 – U.S. Supreme Court ruled that women were not “persons” under the law. Civil law is the body of law that focuses on settling private disputes, such as divorces, contracts and private property issues, and conflicts in the workplace. Criminal law encompasses behaviors that supposedly imperil the general welfare of the society and, consequently, it is the state that prosecutes the offender, not the individual citizen who has been harmed by the offending behavior. The criminal law does not necessarily represent all of society but rather lawmakers… who are they?

3 Women and Men as Offenders
Traditionally women were ignored in criminology Little attention to women was limited to three contexts: Comparisons to underscore women’s low crime rates relative to those of men; Studies of prostitution; Analysis of the depravity of violent women

4 Perception began to change …
A female crime wave? Although men commit a greater absolute number of offenses, the female crime rate was increasing more than the male crime rate. Females engaged in more crime than previously AND they engaged in more serious and violent crime! That is, those traditionally committed by men. Why was this the case?  logical outcomes of the women's liberation movement of course!

5 Liberation Theory Adler and Simon’s perspective came to be known as emancipation (also called the liberation theory) of female crime. Problem 1: Relied on official crime statistics. In comparing male and female rates, they didn’t account for the large difference in the absolute base numbers from which the rates of increase were calculated. More accurate: sex-specific arrest rates, that is, the # of men arrested for a crime per 100,00 of the male population and the # of women arrested for the same crime per 100,00 women in the population.  using this method – there has been neither a dramatic widening nor narrowing of the gender gap in arrests (except for minor larceny and drug offences).


7 What of the Emancipation Theorists claims?
Overstated at best, here’s why: First, studies of female offenders reveal that they are reluctant at best to identify themselves as feminists. Second, although women’s labor force participation has risen dramatically over the past 30 years, women remain segregated in low-prestige, low-paying clerical, sales, and service occupations. What opportunities does this afford them? Motives also differ: female: cited family responsibilities rather than personal excess or corporate profit-making.

8 These factors propel women into crime.
Female property crimes: large portion is shoplifting. Other likely property crime arrests for women: consumer-based currency crimes (passing bad checks, using forged pr stolen credit cards, nonpayment of services and benefits fraud). In sum: women are not committing more violent, masculine offenses, they are committing crimes they have always committed. Women arrested are not liberated women in the paid labor force, but rather poor women who are economically marginalized. Research: typical female offender is young, nonwhite, poor, a high school dropout, and a single mother. These factors propel women into crime. About 78% of those arrested in the U.S. are men in 2000 Males: 83% of violent crimes, 70% of property crime arrests Official arrest stats have been dominated by year old nonwhite males.

9 Drugs, Crime and Gender Arrest of women for drug offenses increased more than 59% between 1991 and 2000. War on drugs a war on women (of color)? Relationship between drugs and crime is multidimensional and gender is only one variable. Involvement in both crime and drugs seem to begin at the same time, usually during adolescence. Most age-out, but for those who continue they escalate their behavior. Male and female street addicts: ↑ drug use, more likely to be involved in other crimes. Typically engage in property crime and drug dealing. Significant difference: Male drug users: more likely to commit and be victims of violent crime. Females more likely to engage in prostitution (tied to drug use).

10 With Justice for All? Criminologists point out: crime and criminals are socially and legally constructed. “The production of ‘criminals’ involves the creation of crime definitions by legislation, and the application of those definitions to particular persons through the various stages of criminal justoce processing. At every stage decisions are made by ordinary, fallible, and sometimes biased human beings.”

11 The Administration of Justice
Plight of female police officers: Double bind: if they conform to men’s conceptions of “good” women, they will be viewed as too weak to do a competent job, but if they behave like men, they will be labeled “bitches” and “dykes” One way male officers masculinize the workplace: sexualize the workplace. Overall, research indicates that there are few differences in the sources of stress, but women’s stress levels increase when they have to deal with sexism, racism, heterosexism, ageism or other discrimination.

12 Studies show: female officers tend to have less aggressive style of policing than do male counterparts but the style used buy an officer, female or male, is influenced by many factors, including the sex, race or ethnicity and demeanor of suspects. Male was standard by which female officers’ performance was measured regardless of whether or not they were effective policing. Federal system: women account for 13% of correctional officers. State: 24% of staff (many positions do not involve direct inmate supervision though). Female correctional officers encounter more harassment from male administrators and coworkers than from inmates. Far fewer judges than female attorneys. Women weren't allowed to stand for election to judgeships in most states until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The sex of the offender does appear to play a part in the disposition of a case. So do other factors: offender’s age and race or ethnicity as well as the offense they are charged with and the # of previous convictions.

13 Do the Punishments Fit the Crime?
“although a suspect’s behavior is of primary importance in determining his or her chances of being arrested, in most cases the decision to arrest a person is based on factors that have little to do with the degree of a person’s behavioral criminality…. It is not so much what a person does as what kind of a person he [or she] is (or is seen by the police to be) that affects official labeling.”

14 Research shows that mandatory sentencing polices for drug offenses and “three strikes” laws have resulted in an increase in the number of racial and ethnic minorities sentenced to prison (esp for Black women). # of Black women incarcerated increased by 278%. Black males: 186% and the overall prison population increased 168%. Sentencing disparity – the imposition of different sentences on offenders convicted for similar crimes. Study: accounting for offense and prior convictions, showed that offense severity and prior record have the largest effects on sentencing for both male and female offenders, and that when men and women have similar circumstances (similar crimes and backgrounds) they are treated alike. Perceived respectability of the offender—male or female—in terms of conformity to traditional gender norms influences sentencing.

15 Familial Based Justice
Women who conform to traditonal model of femininity—for instance, economically dependent on a man, no evidence of drug or alcohol use, no evidence of sexual deviance—may receive a lighter sentence than women deemed less “respectable”. Get tough = longer sentences… …Mostly for nonwhite women. Also greater willingness to sentence people to death Ratio of men to women on death row: 70:1 Are women treated chivalrously by the courts as popularly believed? Not so much…

16 Gender and Corrections

17 U. S. has highest correctional populations in the world
U.S. has highest correctional populations in the world. 2 million incarcerated, nearly 6.5 (in 1997) were under some correctional supervision (probation, jail, prison, or parole). More than 300% increase since 1980 Prisons are “the only expanding public housing” in the United States. Research indicates that women are more responsive to prison programs than men are but women still have fewer opportunities to engage in these programs. Women’s prisons have inadequate medical care and treatment programs. Almost 50% of women in prison report having been previously physically or sexually abused. 10% for men. Separation of inmates from their families presents acute problems for women. About 55% of male inmates have children less than 18 and more than 65% of women have children under the age of 18.

18 Criminal Victimization: Gender, Power, and Violence
Urban areas express higher levels of fear and African Americans are more fearful than White Americans. Older people are more fearful than the young, women more fearful than men. Men: more likely to be victims of violent crime. 89% of males 12 or older will be the victim of a violent crime at least once during their lifetime, compared with 73% of females.


20 Hate Crimes Hate crimes, also called bias crimes, are crimes in which the offender’s actions are motivated by hatred, bias or prejudice, based on the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation of the victim. 60% involve physical violence Usual victims? People of color. Usual offenders? Young, White males. Where was sex in that definition…?

21 “Female fear is fear of male violence”
54% of the violent victimizations reported by women are by someone they know, not a stranger. For men, the numbers are reversed.

22 Rape Rape is the crime women fear the most.
Decreased during the 1990s. Least likely to be reported to the police. Relatively low conviction rate. 22% of arrests are convicted. Rape legally occurs when a person uses force or the threat of force to have some form of sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, anal) with another person. Unlike other crimes in that the victims must prove their innocence rather then the state proving the guilt of the rapist. Men less likely than women to report rape (less than 6%)

23 Other types of Rape Acquaintance rape a incident of sexual assault in which the victim knows or is familiar with the assailant (at least 60% of all rapes). The younger the victim, the more likely she is to know the assailant. 90% of reported cases for victims under the age of 12. 26% of rapes take place in the victim’s home, 33.6% occur at or in or near the home of one of the victim’s friends, relatives or neighbors. Marital rape the sexual assault of a woman by her husband. Often accompanies other forms of domestic violence. Occurs in 9-14% of U.S. marriages.

24 Are rapists abnormal? Not evidence of widespread psychological disturbance in rapists… what does this indicate? They ARE more likely to have been physically or sexually abused as a child than other offenders though, but apart from this psychological tests do not consistently discriminate between rapists and nonrapists. … apparent normality… Cultural context and power relations affect rape occurrence. “rape-free” societies have relatively egalitarian gender relations! And our society? 1) we live in an extraordinarily violent society 2) “conquest mentality” toward sex in American culture. 3) women are sexually objectified in our society.

25 Pornography Pornography versus erotica
Porne root means “prostitution” or “female captive” + graphos meaning “writing about” or “description of” Erotica is derived from the root eros meaning “sensual love” implying love and consent. Two distinct features of pornography: 1) depersonalizes sex and objectifies women. 2) not even about sex per se, but rather the degradation of women and often children through sex. No conclusive causal link between viewing pornography and violence against women. There IS evidence though that viewing violent pornography contributes to violence against women.

26 Pornography (continued)
In laboratory studies, exposure to violent pornography increases men’s sexual arousal and rape fantasies, lessens their sensitivity to rape and rape victims, increases their acceptance or rape myths, and increases their self-reported possibility of raping. Lab experiments are “artificial” though. However, research that relies on women’s and men’s accounts of the use of pornography and “real life” sexual violence shows a strong relationship between the two. Does pornography provide a training manual for abusers? Is pornography liberating for women in that through it, women may become less puritanical and sexually passive and more open or aggressive about their sexual desires as some maintain? 2% of porn is rented by women alone, 71% by men alone, and 19% by men with women. Internet allows people with socially unacceptable interests, such as pedophilia, to find acceptance which in turn validates their feelings or behavior.

27 Institutional Violence Against Women: Custom or Crime?
Binding of Chinese girls feet – immobile woman as a status symbol, “a testimony to the wealth and privilege of the man who could afford to keep her”. Ensured chastity, fidelity, and the legitimacy of children in a society in which women could not “run around” literally. Suttee or widow burning was a custom practiced in India for 400 years until outlawed in 1829. Rape as a weapon of war. Honor killing in which male members of a family kill a female relative whom they believe has acted inappropriately, thereby shaming or dishonoring the family. Female circumcision – primary purpose is to protect a girl from sexual temptations and thereby preserve her marriageability How different are we? Do we engage in barbaric customs in the name of beauty? Violence against women is a direct outgrowth of the devaluation of women.

28 Power, Crime, and Justice
Powerlessness may help explain crime rates and the differential treatment of offenders by the criminal justice system.

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