Gender Issues in Prison Women Now Represent Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Gender Issues in Prison

Women now represent one of the fastest-rising segments in American prisons. In 2001, for example, the number of prison inmates has risen to 94,336, more than double the female prison population in 1990. Women now comprise 6.7% of the prison population, and the figure is expected to rise (Beck, Kerberg and Harrison 2002).

Corrections facilities, however, have been slow to respond to these changes. Many of these facilities were designed to incarcerate violent male inmates. They therefore remain unresponsive to the needs of female inmates.

This paper looks at prison experience from the point-of-view of the female inmate. First of all, this paper argues that the crimes most female inmates commit are quantitatively different from those committed by men. Because of these different reasons, prisons built around the need to contain violent male offenders are ill-equipped to meet the special needs of a growing female population. By taking into account the different reasons women go to prison and re-orienting their programs towards rehabilitation, this paper argues that prisons and correctional facilities could be more responsive to the needs of female prisoners.

Female Offenders

The differences between male and female inmates starts before imprisonment. For many women inmates, the seeds are sown in childhood, as a significantly larger percentage of women than men report being sexually, mentally or emotionally abused while they were growing up. Various studies of female prison inmates consistently find high rates of abuse suffered during childhood and as adults (McClellan, Farabee and McCrouch 1997).

For men, this vulnerability to abuse decreases once they reach adulthood. In contrast, the proportion of women who suffer victimization rises when they become adults. Women in prison are thus more likely to suffer mental or emotional problems, like depression. More female prison inmates are prone to suicide attempts. Some psychiatric problems are serious enough to warrant treatment (McClellan, Farabee and McCrouch 1997).

Corollary to this, women offenders are more likely to need substance abuse programs, since many use drugs and alcohol as a result of severe emotional problems (McClellan, Farabee and McCrouch 1997).

The growing number of women in prisons has also given rise to another disturbing trend -- a rising number of pregnant inmates giving birth in prisons. In 1999, a prison survey conducted for the American Correctional Association found that more than 2,800 babies were born to female inmates in from 1997-1999. As harsher drug measures mete out sentences for even non-violent offenses, the number of pregnant women in prisons is expected to rise (Siefert and Pimlott 2001).

Women in Prison

According to the Bureau of Justice, over 70% of women in all state prisons are serving time for non-violent offenses. The great majority of these crimes -- one in three -- are drug-related offenses (Beck, Kerberg and Harrison 2002). Most of these drug-related crimes are also non-violent offenses, including prostitution, burglary and fraud (Siefert and Pimlott 2001).

Of the women who commit violent crimes, a great majority targeted someone close to them instead of a stranger (Beck, Kerberg and Harrison 2002). The distinction in violent crime targets highlights an important difference between male and female violent offenders. While many male offenders commit violent acts during the commission of other felonies, most women will only be violent against those close to them. An overwhelming majority of female violent offenders are in jail for attacking abusive spouses.

Prison programs for female offenders

Analysts of the current correction system believe that as a whole, the prison system is set up to deal with male inmates. As such, it is unable to deal effectively with the different needs of female inmates, regarding issues like physical abuse, substance abuse, depression and pregnancy.

The problem begins with the court system, which is often biased against female offenders. For example, an empirical study of a juvenile court in Hawaii found substantial differences in the labels given to the non-criminal behavior of boys and girls. Most girls were sent to juvenile court for offenses like running away and incorrigibility. In contrast, boys were often charged with property and gang-related offenses (MacDonald and Chesney-Lind 2001).

Despite the clear differences in the quality of their crimes, however, habitual female offenders often receive harsher penalties for offenses like running away from home. These…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Gender Issues In Prison Women Now Represent" (2005, June 05) Retrieved October 23, 2016, from

"Gender Issues In Prison Women Now Represent" 05 June 2005. Web.23 October. 2016. <>

"Gender Issues In Prison Women Now Represent", 05 June 2005, Accessed.23 October. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Gender Roles in the Chinese

    Americans judged the Chinese according to the own ideals and customs. This distorted the American view of China was that it was much like the United States in many ways (Jesperson, 1996, p. 8). When China came under communist control, Americans made the error of thinking that the Chinese were just like them in many ways. Regardless of how one feels about the westernization of China and Chinese culture, its

  • Women and the Homefront in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee...

    Women and the Home Front in Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee during the Civil War This paper examines the living conditions and attitudes that shaped the lives of the women in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee during and after the American Civil War. The thesis statement should deal with the breakdown of long standing ties between the people of the mountains as they chose to fight for the

  • Women s and Gender Studies

    Women and Gender Studies Of all the technologies and cultural phenomena human beings have created, language, and particularly writing, is arguably the most powerful, because it is the means by which all human experience is expressed and ordered. As such, controlling who is allowed to write, and in a modern context, be published, is one of the most effective means of controlling society. This fact was painfully clear to women writers

  • Prisons for All Intents and Purposes the

    Prisons For all intents and purposes the modern history of penology -- which is to say, the science and the theory of imprisonment and the state apparatus of the penitentiary -- begins with the late 18th century British philosopher Jeremy Bentham. In Bentham's day (corresponding roughly to the time of the American and French Revolutions) there was no idea of a penitentiary per se: there was instead His Majesty's Penal Colony

  • Women in Jails Women in

    Not only was it cost effective but the study also reported that offenders who were treated in the community setting were 43% less likely to reoffend compared to the prison population clearly suggesting the effectiveness of community-based sentences. [Amanda Noblet, 2008, pg 27] Conclusion The criminal justice system is clearly unprepared and ill equipped to manage the unique needs of women in prison. There is clearly a need for a specific

  • Sensibility Women s Identities Are Determined and Limited

    Sensibility Women's Identities Are Determined and Limited by the Expectations of Their Societies Literature written by and about women lends itself very well to feminist interpretative approaches of various kinds. Such approaches often examine the literature of earlier centuries for signs of discontent with or subversive suggestions against aspects of a society in which men have exclusive control of power. Such an approach is especially fruitful to use when examining

  • African American Women Living With AIDS

    (Archie-Booker, Cervero, and Langone, 1999) This study concludes that: "...power relations manifested themselves concretely through these factors in the social and organizational context, which by defining African-American learners as generic entities, produced undifferentiated educational programs." (Archie-Booker, Cervero, and Langone, 1999) The work of Gilbert and Wright reports a study conducted through collecting a series of articles in which African-American women were interviewed concerning living with AIDS. They write in their

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved