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Lecture 22

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PSYC 2400
Adelle Forth

Lecture 22- Guest Lecture: Female Offenders (Shelley Brown)Thursday, March 24, 2011 - Why study female offenders? o Lizzie Borden—1892- accused of killing father and stepmother with hatchet. But she was found not guilty despite all the evidence against her. Convinced the jury she couldn’t have done it. o Diane Downs—1984 sentenced to life to shooting her three children because her man didn’t want children in his life. o Carla Homolka—murder, rape, torture of two teenage girls, including her younger sister. 1992. o Kelly Ellard, convicted of the swarming death of Rita in 1997. She was convicted as the primary lead as well as co-accused male offender, though she was part of group. In BC. o Andrea Yates—from Texas, drowned five children in bathtub, suffering from postpartum psychoses. Found NCRMD o Martha Stewart—convicted of lying to securities and exchange commission, 2004 o Lindsay Lohan—considering a plea bargain for stolen necklace— guaranteed jail time—would get 19 days because of the overcrowding in California. - 1) These women capture our attention, not something that girls and women do frequently. - Very rare - Study of female offenders isn’t about serial killers, sex offenders, etc. They usually commit less serious offences. - **Question** o Aileen Wuornos-America’s First Female Serial Killer- true or false?  Convicted of killing 6/7 men in Florida, linked to prostitution, claimed self-defence but the courts didn’t buy it • FALSE • The media portrayed her as the first female serial killer because she did it in a man’s way • FBI did portray her as that because she used a gun, it was premeditated, she attacked strangers, used blunt force • In actuality, she isn’t the first one. There are female serial killers who have existed for some time but they tend to go for people they know, use poison, less blunt force. Softer methods. - 2) Early theories were sexist o “...even the female criminal is monotonous and uniform compared with her male companion, just as the general woman is inferior to man...due to her being Atavistically nearer to her origin than the male...” o By Lombroso o Essentially, we were evolutionary throwbacks - 3) Research policy says we must study women o Tri-Council Policy guideline (national guideline) - 4) The law says we must study women o Corrections and Conditional Release Act o Guides how federal government should handle female offenders o **Sentence of 2 years or more: federal offender o We have to design programs specifically for females o Law, not just policy - 5) Official statistics suggest female crime is on the rise o Female violent offence rate has more than doubled in last 20 years o Similar trends in US o **Official crime rates (collected by police) o Not just in the amount of crime they’re getting charged with, but the number who are transitioning into the criminal system (convicted and arrested) o See the same pattern globally - **Question** o Why study female offenders?  BEST answer  Answer: all of the above • Applied necessity • Legal/ethical requirement • Feminist advocacy • Scientific reasons o Sometimes we’re just studying out of basic interest, but increasingly in Canada we have to demonstrate that it’s a real problem and our research would give results for Canadians - How much crime do females account for? **NOT a lot of violent/serious crime o 17-23% of all arrests in Western society o 5% of incarcerated population worldwide o 8/10 cases before the courts involve male offenders in Canada o **Gender gap in crime: differential crime for males and females  Widest for violent and serious/repetitive forms  But for things like theft, fraud, etc., it’s narrow  Smallest in the youth (adolescence)  30% of boys and 26% of girls engage in property-related crimes at least once in lifetime  **Tends to be more equal only in context of less serious crime - The gender gap is widest for the most violent forms of crime (e.g., homicide) o 622 homicides in Canada in 2004 o 90% of offenders are male  7% are young male offenders  **of the 58 females that committed homicide in 2004, only 3 were young offenders o Bottom line  Boys/men commit more crime, particularly more violent and serious crime than girls/women regardless of research methodology or disciplinary orientation of researcher - **Question** o In 2004, how many reported homicides in Canada were perpetrated by females?  58 - Are females becoming more violent? o 15 year old girl in Canada guilty of first-degree murder in death of Stefanie Rengel o Medicine Hat man plotted with girlfriend (12 years old) to kill family (her parents didn’t want her to be with older man) o **Women often do these violent offences with a male as an accomplice  Usually doing it to secure the relationship o Guilty verdict for Barrie woman who drowned her daughters in bathtub o “See Jane hit: Why girls are growing more violent and what we can do about it”  Not only is the media voicing the hypothesis, we have academics saying it as well  Not necessarily stabbing someone in the back, but relational aggression—getting back at someone for threat - Serious violent offence charge rate (per 100,000) for youth aged 12-17, 1986- 2005 o Compare the rates—1986 males was 352, females was 60  2004 females was 132  We went up 120%  It was only 80% increase for males o Rate of serious violence going up for both, but higher change for females in comparison to males - **Question** o Does this mean that girls are doing more crime than boys?  NO  The base rate for girls is much lower—incrementally, the increase has been higher for females. - **Question** o According to official statistics, is female violent crime increasing?  Yes  We see this in Australia, England, New Zealand, and the States as well  BUT it probably isn’t really going up, for a number of different reasons. Statistical artefacts (relative percent increases) tend to be inflated the smaller our base rate is (ex. Going from 1% to 3% is threefold increase, but it’s still tiny); unofficial crime trends don’t show same increase (ex. Phone surveys of crimes that aren’t reported to the police—they show there isn’t increase in female violent crime, it’s the policies that have changed) - Do females ‘do’ crime differently? o An offence ‘gestalt’ refers tot he characteristics or the context of the offence  Offender/victim relationship  Motivation  Degree of victim injury/planning--**They’re all different o Different offence gestalt—different offending and mitigating factors - Domestic homicide and motivate o Men: jealousy, infidelity, desertion, control o Women: response to domestic violence (often—battered women’s syndrome) - Non-familial and motivate o Motives seem to be more similar across gender o Face saving, threats to reputation - Do women offender profile differently than males? o Women offenders are:  More likely to have mental health problems  More likely to have been physically/sexually/emotionally abused (90%)  More likely to be assessed as ‘low’ risk (risk to commit new crimes)  More likely to be granted parole  Less likely to re-offend  Less likely to have past criminal record - **Question** o Females do have markedly differe
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