Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology & Anthropology

First Advisor

Fr. Jeremiah Lowney

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Chute

Third Advisor

Ron Stottlemyer

Abstract

Crime has affected every society throughout time. Overall, crime in the United States has decreased in the past few years, but it is important to recognize that there is an increase in the number of female offenders in Montana and across the nation based on official data. There are many different types of female offenders. They include violent offenders, sexual offender, and white-collar criminals. In Montana, over 3,000 women or 14.8 percent of the total offenders are currently under the supervision of the Montana Department of Corrections. In 2000 and 2001, the female offenders who were sentenced for a sexual or violent offense reached all time highs. The question this paper attempts to address is “are women committing more crimes, or are they merely being reported more often to law enforcement?” The major theory examined in this research was conflict theory. The reality of the criminal justice system is that a large number of people in prison are those of a lower socio-economic status and minorities. Thus, I attempted in this research to avoid a dualistic fallacy by examining both those in the justice system and those in the general population. I used historical, quantitative, and qualitative research. Data on the females convicted of violent and sexual offenders were gathered from the Department of Justice. The age, race, county of conviction, crime, type of sentence, and year of conviction of each subject was examined. I interviewed a female violent offender that I call Emma in my paper. Emma describes her life and the journey that took her to becoming registered as a violent offender. Separately, a self-report on crime and delinquency was administered to fourteen Carroll College students and 60 females from the general public in Helena, Montana. These self-reports indicated that many of those in the general population admit to acts that could be considered sexual or violent offenses. However, many of them were not caught or sentenced for an offense in the criminal justice system. Although it is hoped that although we realize crime will never be eradicated from society, it is hoped that we work towards ending the problems of violent and sexual offenses committed by females by discovering underlying factors that are affecting women.

Share

COinS