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In the Australian Criminal Justice System Women are Treated Differently than Men

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  • Essay length: 2967 words
  • Submitted: 11/08/2008
University Degree Criminology

An extract from this essay...

Women throughout history have been viewed in a different sphere to men, and because of this throughout history; they have been treated differently to men in many diverse aspects of society. In the study of criminology, this can be seen with the way the female offender was viewed by society and in the ways, treatment for female offenders was administered. This issue will be explored in more detail to help understand the social constructs formed in female criminality that shape the female corrections today. Examples studied from historical and modern times will be looked at to see if women in prison are punished differently to men or if they are punished as men. Aspects of prison life will be discussed which will include the work and educational programs on offer in male and female penal institutions and differences that may occur and rules regulations and the handing out of discipline by custodial staff and wether or not it is harsher in a female institution. Differences in the general architecture and design of the male and female prisons themselves will also be looked at and sought to see if there are any major architectural differences.

A major factor contributing to the way female corrections are shaped today is how the female offender and female criminality has been viewed in the past. Women offenders were traditionally seen "as more mad, than bad" and when they offended, they were perceived as being in need of care, protection and psychiatric help rather than punitive measures. (Wahidin 2004: 51). Where male criminals were feared as dangerous, women criminals tended to be regarded as misguided creatures that needed protection and help (Giallombardo 1966:7).

Prison reformation for women was based on two main ideas of female offending. First, that the causes of women's criminality came from "an inherent pathological or biological weaknesses" and second "that women offenders had fundamentally deviated from their natural feminine roles" (Barton 2005:2). Reformation as such meant something quite different for women than it did for men. Treatment for women meant instilling in them standards of sexual morality and sobriety and preparing them for their duties as mothers and homemakers whilst reformation for men was about retribution and punishment for crimes committed. (Giallombardo 1966:7). These gender stereotypes dating back to the nineteenth century influenced the design, custodial regimes and educational programs on offer at female institutions and to

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