Women & Crime

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Women have been commonly stereotyped as loving, nurturing and compassionate people. Female offenses, over the past century, have been on the rise (Wormer, 2010). The battle for gender equality might play an important role in this phenomenon. Female offenders started to increase in numbers during the 1980s, as reported by the Uniformed Crime Report (UCR). However, the majority of offenses committed by females are not violent offenses (Wormer, 2010). As shown in the UCR, the percentage of females imprisoned for violent offenses have been declining over the past two decades (United States Department of Justice, 2010). When looking at crimes committed by women, compared to those committed by men, they are obviously smaller in numbers. The questions being asked is why are these numbers increasing at alarming rates? What is causing females to commit to a life of crime? In this paper I will attempt to find the cause or causes as to why a larger percentage of females are committing crime. It is important to note that there is a major increase in the number of females arrested, most notably for non-violent crimes. According to the UCR, during 1980, about 13,000 women were imprisoned in the nation. This number drastically increased to 80,000 by 1997. This clearly shows that the rate of female incarceration is rising faster than that of men. Over the past three decades, female incarceration has more than doubled. Statistics show that the rate of female imprisonment is significantly high being that 54 out of every 100,000 women, compared to 6 out of every 100,000 in 1930, when the first report came out (Simon, & Ahn-Redding, 2009). Amongst criminologists and social scientists, there are generally two perceptions as to why women commit crime. The first and most obviously known cause is that females generally maintain lower incarceration rates than males do. In every category, except embezzlement, prostitution and runaways, men tend to commit crimes at higher rates (Simon, & Ahn-Redding, 2009). The second observation is that the low rate of female crime has not been properly & thoroughly studied. Regarding the nation’s history, criminal research has basically ignored and overlooked the crimes that women commit and put a bigger emphasis on the male offender (Chesney-Lind, 1997). However, because of this rise in female crime, criminologists have begun to study the female offender with a greater emphasis. For the most part, men and female offenders tend to commit more property crimes and substance abuse crimes (Blanchette, & Brown 2006). There are more minor crimes committed versus violent crimes like aggravated assault or murder (United States Department of Justice, 2010). In 2009, the most common crime committed by males was drug abuse violations, whereas females committed other types of offenses except traffic. This category can include public disorder or any other state or law violation that is not specified in Part I or Part II offenses seen in the UCR (United States department of justice, 2010). The most noticeable difference between male and females in the reported arrests is the greater percentage of female offenders arrested for prostitution. In 2009, 56,640 people were arrested for prostitution and commercialized vice; 70% of those people were women (United States department of justice, 2010). The increase in female crimes began to rise after the end of World War II but surprisingly, the increase has not been in “customary” female crimes such as child abuse or prostitution. Crimes like robbery, larceny-theft and driving under the influence are the crimes that have staggering percentage increases. In 2000, 6,663 women were arrested for robbery, whereas in 2009 9,384 were arrested; that’s a 46% increase in a matter of only 10 years (Simon, & Ahn-Redding, 2009). According to the UCR’s data over the years, I have gained better knowledge about increasing female crimes. However, problems still arise as to why there are still such...
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