Chapter 12 Incarceration of Women
Central California Women’s Facilityworld’s largest female prison; Chowchilla, Ca.
Death row in a women’s prison:Central California Women’s Facility death row (holding 12 women) is the small, screened portion of an administrative segregation unit
why women tend to be the “forgotten offenders” • women commit fewer crimes than men • female criminality tends to be less serious than male criminality • historically, women have tended more often than men to be “excluded” from the justice system, by lenient treatment • women constitute a small proportion of the correctional population (6%) • popular social attitude tends to put all females in a subservient position
Institutionalized “sexism”:caused by low status of female criminality • women’s prisons are located farther from friends & family, inhibiting visits, especially for the poor • women’s prisons lack diverse educational, vocational, and other programs available in men’s prisons • women’s prisons lack specialization in treatment and fail to segregate offenders who present special problems or have special needs
women (vs. men) doing time % of adult inmates
more women doing time % increase in men vs. women in state & federal prisons, from 1990
gender and crime: who’s arrested for what? proportion of men vs. women arrested for specific index crimes
evolution of women’s prisons END of reformatory movement “ran its course” by 1935; no new correctional models 1st female-run prison for women Indiana, 1873 run for women, by women Alderson Prison West Virginia, 1927 1st federal prison for women. Mary Belle Harris, warden House of Shelter Detroit, post civil war 1st reformatory for women. run by Zebulon Brockway Women’s Prison Asso. New York, 1844 created to improve treatment of & separate females from male inmates Elizabeth Fry 1780 - 1845 1st to press for reform in treatment of women & children
female prison reform in 1800s guiding principles • separation of women from men • provision of differential care for women • management of women’s prisons by female staff plan . . .
features distinguishing female from male prisons women’s prisons shorter sentences smaller less committed to inmate code looser security inmate-staff relations less structured less developed underground economy less physical violence
female inmate profiles • predominately Black (46%) or White (36%) • between ages of 25 - 34 (50%) • never married (45%) • some high school (46%) or graduated (23%) • Similar to characteristics of male inmates
women and men doing time, by commitment offense types of crime women (vs. men) are serving time for
female prison subcultures (per Heffernan) • “square” (like ‘gleaning’) • situational offender • adheres to conventional norms & values • “the life” (like ‘jailing’) • persistent offenders • act in prison as they did on the outside • antisocial, stand firm against authority • represent about half of female prisoners • “cool” (like ‘doing time’) • professionals; controlled & manipulative; ‘keep busy, play around, stay out of trouble and get out’
definition “pseudo-families” • a distinguishinghallmark of the “subculture” in many women’s prisons (as compared with men’s) • women often cope with the stresses of incarceration by bonding together in extended “families” of convenience. • different women play the roles of various members of the family, including father, mother, siblings, grandchildren, even cousins
key issues in the incarceration of women • educational & vocational training • female programs tend to reflect stereotypical “female” occupations • women’s programs less ambitious than men’s • medical services • women have more serious health problems • mothers & their children • 167,000 American children (2/3 of whom are under 10) have a mother in jail or prison • 65% of incarcerated mothers were single caretakers of minor children.
official sexual misconduct in prison • number of cases of misconduct by male officers in on increase, with increase in female inmates • eg, Houston Cagle & Susan Smith, 2000 • Officers may abuse authority to compel sex by withholding goods and privileges to prisoners or by rewarding them with same • 42 states have enacted legislation prohibiting sexual misconduct