Criminal Justice System and Gender Term Paper

A look at how the treatment of men and women in the criminal justice system differs and how have historians have accounted for gendered patterns.
# 150428 | 1,612 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2012 | GB

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This discussion examines the issue of men and women and crime. It looks specifically at Victorian England, but also examines other periods in order to gain an understanding as to how the criminal justice system has dealt with gender. The piece examines the literature surrounding the debate and highlights evidence which suggests that men and women were treated differently but also balances this out with literature from those who have argued that such evidence and such arguments are over used and perhaps over simplified. The piece then briefly examines arguments on a wider scale relating to the issue of gender and crime, specifically looking at feminist and Marxist interpretations of crime, before some critical reflection on the evidence discussed and the conclusion of the discussion.

From the Paper:

"A further argument in relation to gender is put forward by Morash who argues that women do commit crime at a relatively similar rate to men, but that the crimes they commit are different, owing to the different manner in which they are treated by society. This argument falls somewhere between those put forward by Emsley and Walker and argues that women are more likely to commit crimes in order to aid their survival based on their economic marginalisation. This is particularly true when considering the Victorian age of the Industrial Revolution and also the vast majority of the twentieth century before the Second World War. In other words that, as a result of structural inequalities within society (it is worth pointing out that these inequalities are acknowledged to different degrees by both Walker and Emsley) women commit different crimes to men based on their particular situations. Crime is therefore considered a necessity for women in order to attempt to survive. In such a context these crimes therefore tie in with the Marxist school of criminological thought, which uses Marx's critique of capital and the capitalist system to argue that crime is in effect dictated by society, based on that particular societies structural inequalities. Morash is supported by Smart and the bulk of feminist writers in making this assertion and there is strong support from other areas of criminology for this view.


Sample of Sources Used:

  • Emsley, Clive. Crime and Society in England 1759 -1900 (3rd ed.); Pearson Education: London, 2005;
  • Morash, Merry Understanding Gender, crime and justice.; SAGE Publications: London, 2006;
  • Smart, Carol Women, crime and criminology: a feminist critique; Law Book Company of Australasia: London, 1978;
  • Spelman, William. "Crime, cash, and limited options: Explaining the prison boom." Criminology and Public Policy 8.1 2009: 29-78.
  • Walker, Garthine. Crime, gender and social order in early modern England; University of Cambridge Press: Cambridge, 2003;

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