Male vs. Female Offenders

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The prison world is predominately male dominated. As the years go by, female incarceration levels have been rapidly increasing. The prisons in early days didn’t have to worry about dealing with two different types of inmates as there were not that many females incarcerated. While male and female inmates do have some similarities, they also have some distinct differences. The way they conduct themselves in prison are different; as are they way they interact with other inmates. Males typically are in prison for more violent crimes than women, making the maximum security prisons mainly male. Throughout this paper, these differences and a few similarities are discussed.

“We know how hard it is to help prisoners become better men, and many penal authorities have given up too easily on that task. But whatever prisons do, they must not make men needlessly worse.” ~ John P. Conrad Male inmates have predominately made up the majority of prison populations dating back as far as prisons go. Each year, the number of male inmates gradually grows. Since 1995, the male population in prisons has grown 26%. With the ever growing population of males alone, overcrowding in the nation’s prisons is becoming an issue, especially when almost half of the crimes for which males were sent to prison are violent in nature. Violent offenses can include homicide, rape, manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, etc. This brings the overcrowded male prisons to a dangerous level. The overcrowding and citizen alarm about violence in the community have tended to force correctional administrators to find ways to release those men considered least dangerous back into the community (Allen et al. 314).

Many male offenders were drug and alcohol abusers before they were sentenced. For example, in 1997 almost one third of the men in prison had been drinking at the time of their current offense and more than one third were under the influence of drugs. These issues have contributed negatively on the behavior of inmates both in the community and in the institutions. While in prison, many are offered some kind of institutional work assignment. These types of jobs have an average pay of less than $1 per hour. It is hard to motivate an incarcerated man to make a serious effort to learn a trade while he is working in a prison for such a low wage when the same man has made up to $500 per day illegally and he knows it can be done again (Allen et al. 315). Gangs within male prisons can be a huge problem. 1 in 5 males in prison have been sexually abused, often by other inmates. Sexual assaults that occur in prisons are often made by heterosexually oriented males to show power and dominance over others. Many male inmates come into the prison with the dominating attitude, but the prison environment can change them. Some have the feeling that you have to do things that maybe you normally wouldn’t do in order to survive your sentence.

“Females tend to commit survival crimes, fed by a drug-dependent life, and escape brutalizing conditions and relationships.” ~ Barbara Owen Female inmates have always and still are the minority in prisons. However, their population is on a steady and rapidly growing climb. The number of female’s held in America’s jails is up over 130% since 1990. Recently there has been a movement to push for the rights of female prisoners in corrections. Females still receive differential, sometimes even preferential treatment, partly in deference to traditional female gender roles, except in the area of drug arrests (Allen et al. 284). Officers tend to use different discretion when dealing with female offenders. They see their mother or sister and will treat them differently than they would a male in the same situation. Throughout research, it has been stated numerous times that a large majority of female offenders, 98%, have some sort of lifetime trauma experience. It is suggested that females generally are not drawn...
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