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CRM3307 - Women, Justice and Criminalization - Midterm 1

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Erin Mc Cuaig

Theoretical Origins of Female Crime  High rates of imprisonment of women are a result of policies, which are archaic. Why more women incarcerated?  More mandatory min sentences  big focus on drug related offences (possession of marijuana) concern of poverty o Mandatory min sentence does not deter crime  Concern regarding classifications, often placed into of solitary confinement  Critical Feminist Criminologist: programs are not addressing practical realities that are sending women into prison.  Ashley Smith o Fourteen-year-old placed in a youth facility for one month in 2003 after throwing crab apples at the mailman o Suicide in jail Walter Dekeseredy (2009) Female Crime: Theoretical Perspectives Women and criminal justice system, A Canadian Perspective pg. 31-59  Street crime, conjugal violence, genocide, white collar/corporate o Genocide to terrorism; the product mostly of men. o Violent crime exceeds women  Question of masculinity  exaggerated form of masculinity  Corporate Crimes  crimes of the powerful are usually male dominated.  Usually white males have the high paying jobs o Mediatized cases for men  Massacre in Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Montreal Dawson College  School Shootings: Colorado movie theatre, Elementary School  Major shootings tend to be men o Mediatized cases for women  The murder of Reena Virk = vicious murder led many Canadians to conclude that there is a new wave of ―violent, unruly women…running amok‖ (behave uncontrollably)  Karla Hamolka o Violent crime for men vs. women  Reena Virk (beaten to death by a group of 14-16 year old girls)  Girls are no longer soft and sweet,  more dangerous and violent.  Mean girl phenomenon. Movie: Monster  Aileen Wuornos o Serial killer woman, sex worker portrayed very manly in movie. o For example, US movies, = women in conflict with the law are masculinized monsters, lesbian villains, incarcerated teenage predators, or pathological killer beauties. o Film masculinized the character of Aileen. Dressed in men’s clothing, physically larger and dominates her petite, more feminine partner. Wurnos 1 is the sole provider and the one who controls physical contact in the relationship. Theoretical Frames  Theories are grounded in personal experience or what people see or hear or read in the media (like opinions).  Theory: a set of interconnected statements or propositions that explain how two or more events or factors are related to one another. o Bad Theories of Crime  Many current policies gave been derived from bad theories of crime. (Ie. Poverty as a risk of crime)  Use risk assessment instruments which came out of insurance industry (probability of patterns)  Structural conditions that put women in the crime  needs are accounted as risks, which causes over classification of women in max security. Positivist CRM: Biomedical  Ex: borderline personality disorder characterized by disconnection from society (more impulsive, gamble more)  No atavistic traits among women criminals 2  It tends to pathologies (biological deficit to crime) which neglecting past histories of women in prison  not taking into account the causes o CURRENTLY FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME IS criminalized  not part of DSM o Lombroso & Ferrero  Positivism assumes that human behaviour is determined and can be measured/observed  Concerned with drawing our attention to the characteristics of criminals rather than their behaviour.  Criminals were “biological throwbacks” or atavistic. Not as far along the evolutionary ladder as law abiding human beings. Traits of Female Offenders:  Because many female offenders were young, they showed fewer atavistic characteristics than male criminals. o Equated to being monsters, but criticism: double sword (classical beauty and manipulative) because able to hide behind that.  Earliest form of positivist theory focused on characteristics  Their analysis also dismisses the influence of broader social, political, economic and cultural determinants of crime. Modern day writings (Pollak)  Dual Focus Theory of Female Crime, focuses on both the biological causes of female crime and causes of the reactions to those offences.  Biological factors cause females to commit crimes; however, female crimes are more likely to involve sex or are cunning/deceitful  works in their favour. o Chivalry rooted in social construction of women as passive, dependent and requiring the protection of men.  Pollac associated women’s ability to deceive criminal justice officials with passive role they traditionally play during sexual intercourse. o Critiques:  Theories are not reflection to truth (open to interpretation)  Aboriginal women prisoners: way higher rates of incarceration.  Ignores that women are often treated more harshly by police especially women of colour.  Contemporary Theories o Women‟s Liberation/Emancipation Theories  Arrests between men and women  Dramatic increase in women being arrested for robbery, embezzlement, and burglary.  Movement opened up new roles for women in the military, education, business and politics, it also opened up new roles for women in crime, which had historically been dominated by men. o Young girls involved in more drinking, stealing, gang activity and fighting (male roles) 3  Female crime is limited mainly to property offences and that violent female crime has decreased.  Critiques:  Based on police statistics, which are not accurate indicators of the extent of crimes committed by men and women. (Bias) o Changing focus/policies (ex: adoption of the zero tolerance  less discretion, higher charge rates) o Statistics can give a certain impression of a situation that may not be accurate o Power-Control Theory (Hagan/Gillis and Simpson)  Familial dynamics between mother and father & delinquent behaviour of adolescents  Hagan (1989): Patriarchal vs. Egalitarian  Lower rates of female delinquency in families where father is controlling  Parent’s positions of power in the workplace are reproduced at home and affect the probability of their children committing delinquent acts.  Patriarchal: father is the income earner, goes outside home to make living, mother child barrier (responsible for socializing and controlling the children), = men risk takers o Less female deviance (criminality)  Egalitarian: both parents are working, encourages risk- taking behaviour of boys and girls such as delinquency. o Socially reproduces daughters who are prepared along with sons to join the production sphere.  Limitations  Simplistic patriarchal view (Today women are working and taking care of the home)  Most married working women do all the cooking, cleaning and childcare and most of them lack decision-making power.  Ignore the influence of the following important variables: social class, negative parental sanctions, peer group influence and the role of school. Feminist Theories o Liberal Feminism:  Ex: Only 22% of Prime Minister Harper’s 32 members Cabinet were women. None of the female Cabinet ministers was in charge of Harper’s top priorities.  Equal opportunity through legislation o Social Feminism  Women are unable to have autonomy and agency in their lives because they are so economically dependent on men 4 o Structural Action Theory  Notion of corporate crime and how it tends to be white male  Women are more likely to be blue-collar, part time and lack network resources o Persistent Obstacles for feminist scholars:  Database  largely male dominated empirical study  Difficult to get credibility  Feminists are labeled as radical & politically motivated. Elizabeth Comack (2006) “Introduction: Making Connections Class, Race, Gender Intersection” Common Offences: o Karla Homolka  atypical female offender  When charged with violent offence, it is most likely to be level one or common assault.  Hamolka grew up in suburban middle class home, while majority of women who come into conflict with the law come from marginalized economic situations.  Race: Homolka’s whiteness can be contrasted with the overrepresentation of Aboriginal women and women of colour in Canada’s prisons.  Class/Race/Gender intersect in the lives of criminalized women.  Poverty/Class o Gender inequality in Canada comes in a number of forms, but the most apparent manifestation is economic. o Single Parents: Nature of work available to women (part time, blue collar) o Women who get in trouble: young, poor, under educated and unskilled. o Over 80% incarcerated women in Canada - for poverty related offences.  Employment o Being unemployed at time of arrest is huge o Some commonalities among men and women being incarcerated. Lower socioeconomic level in society. Generally unemployed at time of arrest. Substance abuse  lack of discharge planning when released.  Race: o Aboriginal Women Prisoners  First Nations, Metis, Inuit: highest rates of incarceration to federal level  1/3 of incarcerated population are aboriginal  whereas 3% of outside population  The overrepresentation of Aboriginal women more acute than for men. o Additional Considerations  Harder to find jobs. High rates of systematic violence  Sexual, physical and emotional attacks are interrelated and inter-generational in our communities.  Higher rates of single parents; often because father incarcerated 5  54% of aboriginal people had not completed high school.  Looking at history, loss of trust with agents of law and order.  The process of colonization—including colonial state policies such as Indian Act.  Higher involvement is sex trade industry  highly stigmatized, criminalized and lots of violence.  Substance Abuse is a form of escape & copings that leads to process of devaluing.  Pollack suggests that Black women’s conflicts with the law  concern to assert their independence and resist marginalisation and state enforced dependency (such as welfare) Locating Criminalized Women  Lower income & Lower Education
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