Session 9-10 Women Offenders (2016)Apunte Inglés
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GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
SESSION 9-10: WOMEN OFFENDERS
There is a gender gap in crime. 92% of people in prison are men while 8% are women. According to data
1. The female share of arrests for most categories is 20% or less and is smallest for the most serious
2. Female are heavily underrepresented in serious property and person crimes, such as homicide, rape, robbery and burglary.
Gender gap in crime: How women experience rules.
How women are appraised when these rules are broken.
The risks that women consider paramount to defend themselves from: the slanders they refuse to accept and the resources they use to avoid what they consider to be the worst situation.
“What is understood by crime and what is considered a sin, why we feel guilt, which aspirations we think we have a right to defend, which strategies we use to tackle difficult situations –all these are experiences conditioned by gender models”. (Dolores Juliano, 2008) Even though women are the poorest group in every society as well as those who assume the highest amount of responsibility, they commit very few of the crimes related to economic needs.
They avoid breaking the law by developing alternative strategies, turning to support network creation, to unregulated work or to sexual work, among others.
Certain agreement in terms of considering that prison represents a more important problem for women than for men.
Stereotypes of female criminals Women are determined by nature.
Medical doctors and psychologists studied female criminality.
Criminal women are crueler and sinister than men.
Lack of maternal instinct.
Biological determinist: o Women who have committed offences are perceived to have been motivated by fundamental biological processes.
o The female biology is perceived to determine the temperament, intelligence and aggression of women.
GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE Classic theories Lombroso: Women are more cunning than men. Biological nature.
Pollak: There’s no gender gap. Women are not prosecuted because they use their seduction and CJS acts with chivalry.
Freda Adler: Suggested that there was a rise in female criminality because of the women’s liberation movement. In a future with much more equality, women would commit much more crime than men.
Carol Smart’s critique of classical theories: Classical authors treat the behavior of women within specific cultures as the “true” and “natural” character of women. The don’t distinguish between sex and gender.
They conceptualize the basis of these female and feminine characteristics in biological terms.
When women commit a crime, they’re not just breaking the law. They are breaking the informal control that has affected they lives since their birth. They’re breaking also a stereotype of being passive and nonaggressive.
Lesbians as perpetrators Lesbians are discriminated against in the CJS. The fact of being lesbian tends to be more prosecuted, convicted, sentenced to jail and more likely to serve a longer sentence. The CJS treats in a harsh way women who are not in the right stereotype of women, treating them different.
There was a study of women who were on death row, and 40% were lesbians. In many cases, the prosecutors used the defendant’s lesbianism to dehumanize her.
Some truths about female offenders Women commit less crime than men and have shorter criminal careers. Also are more likely to commit property crimes and the rate of recidivism is lower than men.
Gender and prison Prisons are as gendered as many other places. Historically, prisons and prison regimes have almost invariably been designed for the majority male prison population (architecture, security procedures, healthcare, family contact, work and training). Also, often alternatives to prison fail to take into account the specific requirements of women offenders.
GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE The numbers of women and girls held in prison are growing every year and at a faster rate than man.
Women are between 2-9% of the prison population.
It is estimated that millions of children worldwide have a parent in prison and tens of thousands are living in prison with their mothers. As women and girls represent less than a tenth of the prison population, often their characteristics and needs remain unacknowledged and unmet by CJS.
In Thailand, women prisoners comprised 17’2% of the overall prison population related to drug-related offences. In England and Wales, between 1995 and 2005, women sentenced to immediate custody, increased a 69%.
Women and men in prison 1. The circumstances in which women commit criminal offences are different from men: Committing non-violent offences A result of discrimination and deprivation.
In some countries women are imprisoned for “status offences” like adultery or prostitution.
In others, women may be imprisoned on the grounds of “protection from honor crimes” or to ensure they will testify against their rapist in court.
2. Economic dependency on male family members.
3. Women offenders are disproportionately likely to have been victims of domestic or sexual abuse.
4. During the criminal justice process, women are at risk of abuse (from police, prison officers and fellow prisoners). There are some kinds of rape, touching, invasive body searches… 5. Wider impact of prison when women are mothers because there are consequences for the children.
6. Women in prison face grater stigma than mane. In many countries, husbands rarely visit their partners and many women are rejected by their communities and even by their families when they return home 7. Fewer women prisons also mean greater distances from their homes and families. Disadvantages in receiving visits and increased isolation.
GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE What we know about women in prison - 29% report an alcohol problem and 30% report a drug problem on arrival in prison.
- Female prisoners who self-harm do so more frequently than male prisoners.
- 3 times the number of females self-harming per 1000 prisoners compared to males.
- 59% have problems with relationships (35% for men) which may affect risk of reoffending.
- 63% of women in prison for non-violent offences.
- 78% of women in prison exhibit some level of psychological disturbance.
GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE - 1 in 4 women in prison has spent time in LA as a child.
- Over half the women in prison say they have been subject to domestic violence and 1 in 3 sexual abuses.
- Women prisoners often inadequately prepared for release.
- Only 1/3 received help with help & advice about benefits and debt.
Bangkok rules UN Rules for the treatment of women prisoners and non-custodial measures for women offenders (Bangkok Rules)UN General Assembly, Dec. 2010: Supplement the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Tokyo Rules on alternatives to imprisonment Acknowledge that treating women offenders in the same way as men will not achieve gender equality -> women in the CJS do have gender-specific characteristics and needs.
Rules address the needs of Women under arrest and awaiting trial Women under sentence Children in prison with their parent Male prisoners and offenders who are fathers The Rules cover, among others: admission procedures GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE healthcare humane treatment (the training of prison staff) search procedures and visiting rights children who accompany their mothers into prison rehabilitation programs Alternatives to prison Rule 57: “gender-specific options for diversionary measures and pretrial and sentencing alternatives shall be developed within Member States’ legal systems, taking account of the history of victimization of many women offenders and their caretaking responsibilities”. Ex. restorative justice programs for social reintegration of women; counseling.
Rule 64: non-custodial sentences for pregnant women and women with dependent children should be “preferred where possible and appropriate”. Custodial sentences when the offence is serious or violent or the woman represents a continuing danger, and after taking into account the best interests of the child or children.
Women offenders in the community: 9 lessons (UK) 1. Be women-only 2. Integrate offenders and non-offenders 3. Foster women’s empowerment 4. Utilise what is known about women’s effective learning styles 5. Take a holistic and practical stance 6. Facilitate links with mainstream agencies 7. Allow women to return to ‘top-ups’ and continued support 8. Ensure that women have a supportive milieu or mentor 9. Provide practical help with transport and childcare Gelsthorpe, Sharpe and Roberts, 2007: Provision for Women Offenders Health issues Women prisoners have greater primary healthcare needs in comparison to men: GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE -health conditions untreated before admission due to discrimination in accessing adequate healthcare services in the community -typical background of women prisoners many are infected with STDs, including HIV and hepatitis.
80% of women prisoners have an identifiable mental illness and one in ten will have attempted suicide before being imprisoned, according to the (WHO). Mental health, substance abuse and the treatment and care of other diseases In England and Wales women in prison are ten times more likely to harm themselves than men in prison.
Reproductive healthcare. Women prisoners should have the same access to preventative healthcare, such as breast cancer screening, as offered to women in the community. The shackling of women during childbirth remains widespread in some countries, including in the United States.
Bangkok Rules - The use of instruments of restraint on women during labour, during birth and immediately after birth is prohibited - There is a prohibition of solitary confinement or disciplinary segregation for pregnant women, women with infants and breast feeding mothers.
Searches Women face more risk of abuse during pat-down searches and during strip or invasive body searches Bangkok Rules - searches on women must be carried out by female staff - Alternative screening methods should be developed.
Violence Women face high risk of rape, sexual assault and humiliation in prison: by prison staff and other prisoners.
Ex. improper touching during searches, and being watched when dressing, showering or using the toilet.
Greater impact of, for example, strip-searches on women (frequent previous sexual assault) Abuse or exploitation by prison staff -> little opportunity of escaping from the abuser. Fears of retaliation + stigmatization of sexual abuse.
“For instance, [male staff] may offer women special privileges or goods otherwise hard to obtain. Equally, they may threaten to deny them access to their entitlements. It is crucial to bear in mind that under such GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE circumstances it can never be argued that a woman has ‘consented’ to a sexual relationship, even if this appears to be the case.” (UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, 2008) Visit rights In many prisons -> invasive body searches after visiting time -> discouraging from receiving visits.
In some countries, conjugal visits are: - not allowed to women in prison or - more restricted than for male prisoners Few women prisons -> distances from their homes and families. Visitors should be allowed to have longer visits if they come from remote locations.
Mothers in prison Most countries -> babies and young children may remain in prison with their mothers (until they are 2 or 4 years old).
Prison services must include services for children in prison with their mothers. Medical, physical or psychological.
Special provisions for mothers prior to admission organize alternative childcare for children left outside.
Example: In two mother and baby units out of the 13 which exist in the Russian Federation , convicted women prisoners live in joint accommodation with their babies and may do so until the baby reaches the age of three (with some flexibility if the mother is due for release within a year.
Children in prison Bangkok Rules stipulate that: Non-custodial alternatives to custody should be applied wherever possible if someone facing imprisonment has sole caring responsibilities.
The decision as to whether a child is to be separated from its mother (or father) must be based on individual assessments and the best interests of the child.
GENDER AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE Children in prison with their mother (or father) should never be treated as prisoners(no punishments).
Their experience must be as close as possible to life for a child outside.
Children must be taken into account at all stages of a parent’s contact with the CJS.
Mothers/fathers must be allowed as many opportunities as possible to see the children who are imprisoned with them.
Rehabilitation Female prisoners -> often detained in facilities that don’t correspond to their classification -> where fewer or no programs are offered with regard to rehabilitation and reintegration Ex: In a women’s prison in Thailand with 4,000 prisoners, all were classified as high-risk, even though the prison director said that only six prisoners actually met the criteria.
They usually have few opportunities for transfer and little access to a true minimum security institution.
Rehabilitation programs should be designed and made available in prisons specifically for women prisoners: gender-specific needs; address the underlying factors that led to their offence; should include skills which are not traditionally considered as appropriate for women due to gender stereotyping.
Rehabilitation and release Women are likely to suffer particular discrimination after release from prison, due to social stereotypes. Prerelease preparation and post-release support policies and programs -> address the gender-specific needs of women offenders.
Rule 45: Prison authorities shall utilize options such as home leave, open prisons, halfway houses and community-based programmes and services to the maximum possible extent for women prisoners, to ease their transition from prison to liberty, to reduce stigma and to re-establish their contact with their families at the earliest possible stage.
LGTB people and prison Risk of sexual assault 67% of LGBT prisoners in California report being assaulted while in prison (NCLR, 2008) Vulnerability: some prisons separate them from other prisoners, other -> the general population.
Transgender people: Genitalia-based placement -> even for transgender women with breasts may be placed in male prisons.