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Why women commit more crime?

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Men long have been regarded as the usual suspects when it comes to crime and violence. But a growing body of research on crime shows that the gender line is indeed breaking down. The past three decades alone have witnessed a dramatic rise in female-authored crimes and that sharp increase is reflected by the growing number of women on our nation's prison rolls. In 1970 there were about 6,000 women incarcerated in federal and state prisons, says Dr. Andrew Chishom, a criminal justice professor at the University of South Carolina. Fifteen years later, the number had jumped to 22,000, and by the mid '90s it had skyrocketed to 75,000 and is growing steadily at a rate of nearly 11 percent a year, he indicates. New Justice Department statistics place the number of women currently behind bars at almost 90,000! So what has sparked this sudden upswing in crime by women? ...read more.


"When you factor in race and gender, it's even more prevalent because there is a disproportionate percentage of African-Americans who are poor. Women are disproportionately poor [compared to men] and Black women are far more disproportionately poor than other groups of women." Of course everyone who is poor is not going to resort to crime for survival, Dr. Scott says, "but poverty certainly does lead to a higher probability of crime." Another possible reason for the surge in crime among women concerns something sociologists refer to as the "liberation hypothesis." Women, because of their gender, their status as consumers and their lack of access to certain institutions in society, typically have been confined to crimes such as shoplifting, credit card and welfare fraud and prostitution. But as society moves toward greater gender equality and women gain more access to legitimate arenas, such as employment and education, they also gain access to once-restricted avenues of crime. ...read more.


While Dr. Scott clarifies that it's not a cause-and-effect relationship, she admits there is a correlation between the increasing acceptance of violence in this society and the increase in violent crimes by women and men alike. "We are very apathetic when it comes to violence," she says. "Violence is everywhere in the media and it has become an accepted way of dealing with frustration and aggression, and it's not just men." Women account for about 14 percent, 2.1 million, of all violent offenders, informs Dr. Zina McGee, a sociology professor at Hampton University who specializes in criminology and juvenile delinquency. However the vast majority of those women (3 out of 4) commit only simple assault, which doesn't involve a weapon, she says. Again the liberation hypothesis comes into play. The confidence women gained from breaking through gender barriers in American society flowed into other areas as well, experts inform. As women achieve greater parity with men on all levels, women find they too can engage in behavior, specifically violent behavior, that once was deemed inappropriate for ladies. ...read more.

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