Just Sociology

Breaking the Cycle of Offending: Understanding Women’s Offending Behaviour

The issue of women’s offending behaviour has elicited significant concern and attention from scholars, policymakers, and the general public in recent years. Despite being a minority group in the criminal justice system, women have been found to experience distinct patterns of offending compared to men.

This article aims to discuss complex theories on women’s offending behaviour and highlight the over-representation of women in the criminal justice system. Additionally, it will use Whitney’s story to illustrate the impact of childhood experiences on women’s offending behaviours.

Women’s Offending Behaviour

Research has shown that women’s offending behaviours differ from those of men in various ways, including their patterns of criminal activity, motivation, and backgrounds. The criminal behaviours are often shaped by several factors such as the offender’s interpersonal relationships, family history, drug and substance abuse, and experiences with domestic violence.

Compared to men, women’s offending behaviour is often linked to their social and personal relationships. This includes their experience of domestic violence or abuse, substance abuse and mental health, and history of victimization.

Additionally, women offenders are more likely to have been victims of childhood abuse (Bloom et al., 2009). The Over-Representation of Women’s Offending Behaviour

Women are a minority group within the criminal justice system, accounting for 15 percent of all offenders (Home Office, 2019).

However, women’s offending behaviour is a growing concern within this system, with their reoffending rates higher than that of men (Goodale & MacKenzie, 2019). Additionally, women are less likely to receive custodial sentences and existing programs like probation and community sentences do not address the unique factors that drive women to crime.

Women offenders are more likely to receive short sentences and have higher reoffending rates than men offenders (Quarterly Ministry of Justice, 2020). The criminal justice system is also less likely to provide necessary support to women offenders, particularly those who have been abused or have children in their care.

Impact of Short Sentences on Women

Short sentences and high rates of reoffending have a significant impact on women offenders, particularly regarding their social and emotional support networks. Women who serve short sentences for crimes are at risk of losing their jobs, housing, and relationships with their children.

Imprisonment negatively impacts the offender’s emotional wellbeing, particularly regarding relationships and family life. The impact of imprisonment on women’s mental health can also be severe, particularly for mothers and caregivers.

Their role as the primary caregiver makes it difficult to maintain relationships with their children, impacting both the offender and the children (Home Office, 2019). Whitney’s Story

Whitney’s Background and Childhood Experiences

Whitney is a pseudonym for an African-American woman in her mid-twenties.

As a child, Whitney was placed in foster care at the age of six due to her parent’s abuse of drugs and alcohol. She experienced significant behavioural problems and was excluded from multiple schools throughout her childhood.

Whitney’s adolescence was marked by drug abuse, and at eighteen, she was charged and convicted for possession of illegal drugs. Her interactions with the criminal justice system intensified over the years, with a history of short sentences and high rates of reoffending.

Root Cause of Whitney’s Offending Behaviour

Various factors led to Whitney’s offending behaviour, including her childhood experiences in foster care and exclusion from multiple schools. Her history of drug abuse was also a contributing factor that led her to commit more crimes.

Whitney’s story highlights the impact of childhood experiences on women’s offending behaviour. Her early experiences in foster care and exclusion from multiple schools impacted her psychological development, leading to her behavioural problems during her adolescence years.

During these years, her substance abuse started, further influencing her criminal activities. Understanding the root causes of Whitney’s offending behaviour is informative in addressing the issues of women’s offending behaviour more comprehensively.

Impact of Abuse on Childhood Development

Childhood abuse, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, is a key factor contributing to women’s offending behaviour. Women who experience childhood abuse are more likely to experience behavioural and emotional difficulties, depression, and anxiety, leading to deviant behaviours.

Childhood abuse often has profound effects on psychological development, leading to emotional and behavioural difficulties. The impact of abuse can lead to a lack of trust in oneself and others or repeated attempts to obtain affection and approval in unsafe environments, leading to an increased risk of involving themselves in criminal activities (Mullender & Sancho, 2012).

Conclusion

This article has provided an overview of the complex issue of women’s offending behaviour, highlighting the over-representation of women in the criminal justice system. It has also illustrated how childhood experiences can contribute to women’s offending behaviour, using Whitney’s story as a case study.

While women’s criminal behaviour is often linked to personal and social relationships, understanding the root cause of their actions is essential for developing effective interventions to address their needs. Policymakers and criminal justice practitioners need to consider the specific needs of women offenders to develop interventions that adequately address their root causes, improve their social and emotional support networks, and reduce recidivism rates.

3) Solutions to Break the Cycle of Offending

One solution in addressing women’s offending behaviour is the provision of training and development programs for offenders. These programs can help women offenders develop new skills and open up opportunities for social and economic participation, thus reducing their likelihood of reoffending.

One example of such a program is a hairdressing salon in Dagenham, Essex. This salon provides level one hairdressing training to ex-offenders and drug users, equipping them with employable skills and providing them with opportunities to reintegrate into society.

The hairdressing salon takes a holistic approach to helping these women offenders; it enables them to develop professional skills while also providing mental health support, language and communication skills, as well as financial and employment advice. The training program also teaches women self-care techniques and provides hairdressing services for individuals experiencing abuse or in difficult life circumstances.

This therapeutic approach assists women in improving their mental health, building self-confidence and social skills essential for reentry into the workforce (Grant, 2020). Moreover, to effectively address women’s offending behaviour, there is a need for real societal change that addresses the basic building blocks of women’s lives, including employment, housing, and social support.

Women offenders often have unstable housing, making it challenging to maintain regular employment or even receive training. Therefore, addressing housing instability for women offenders would be a critical intervention in reducing the likelihood of recidivism (Bloom et al., 2009).

Furthermore, in attempting to break the cycle of offending, it is essential to prioritize connectiveness; women who have been incarcerated have often lost their sense of connection with society. Addressing this loss by enabling them to participate in meaningful activities and supporting their social and family ties can positively impact their lives and reduce their likelihood of reoffending.

4) Left Realist Criminology

The theories of Left Realist Criminology provide a valuable framework to address issues of women’s offending and recidivism. Left Realist Criminology argues that crime is not only an individual problem but also a social one, with its causation linked to inequality, poverty, and social exclusion.

Addressing these social problems would, therefore, reduce the likelihood of crime (Dodd, 2019). One solution aligning with this theory in addressing women’s offending behaviour is the provision of employment opportunities, housing stability, and social support for women offenders.

This strategy adequately addresses the social factors responsible for women’s offending behaviour while simultaneously offering women a means towards a sustainable livelihood. Additionally, community-based interventions, such as counseling and support groups, would provide a framework for the promotion of healthy interpersonal relationships and interactions with other members of the society (Skelton & Valentine, 2003).

Other Solutions Mentioned in the Podcast

Another solution to break the cycle of offending among women discussed in the podcast is the provision of tailored programs for addressing root causes. For example, women offenders with a history of substance abuse should participate in programs that effectively address this issue, such as substance rehabilitation programs.

Moreover, the provision of gender-sensitive trauma-focused interventions and treatment can also help women offenders address trauma that often underlies their offending behaviour. Finally, the need for prevention is key to breaking the cycle of offending while addressing the root causes of offending behaviour.

Prevention measures include early intervention programs that support children who have experienced early childhood abuse or neglect. Such early intervention programs are vital for breaking the cycle and preventing recurrent offending among women.

In summary, the issue of women’s offending behaviour is complex and multifaceted, necessitating multifaceted and holistic solutions. The provision of training programs, stable housing, social support, and community-based interventions offers valuable solutions that promote sustainable livelihoods and support women’s integration into society.

Left Realist Criminology offers a valuable framework for addressing social factors contributing to women’s offending behaviour, providing insight into social interventions that create the foundation for lasting societal change. In conclusion, the issue of women’s offending behaviour is a complex problem that requires holistic solutions.

This article has highlighted the over-representation of women in the criminal justice system, the impact of short sentences on women, and the role of childhood experiences in contributing to women’s offending behaviour. Additionally, the article has discussed solutions, including training programs, stable housing, and social support, aligned with Left Realist Criminology.

Ultimately, we need to prioritize the connectiveness of women offenders while addressing their social and economic needs to break the cycle of offending.

FAQs:

Q: What factors contribute to womens offending behaviour?

A: Women’s offending behaviour is often linked to their social and personal relationships including their experience of domestic violence or abuse, substance abuse and mental health, and history of victimization. Childhood abuse is also a key factor.

Q: Why are women often given short sentences? A: Women are more likely to receive short sentences because they are a minority group within the criminal justice system, and existing programs like probation and community sentences do not address the unique factors that drive women to crime.

Q: What can be done to break the cycle of womens offending behaviour? A: Holistic solutions include training programs, stable housing, community-based interventions such as counseling and support groups, and employment opportunities.

Q: What is Left Realist Criminology? A: Left Realist Criminology argues that crime is not only an individual problem but also a social one, with its causation linked to inequality, poverty, and social exclusion.

Q: How can childhood experiences impact womens offending behaviour? A: Childhood abuse can lead to a lack of trust in oneself and others or repeated attempts to obtain affection and approval in unsafe environments, leading to an increased risk of involving themselves in criminal activities.

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