Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Human Services

First Advisor

Janina Cich

Second Advisor

Diane Nelson


The complexities of women's incarceration are misunderstood and often not spoken of, and as a criminal justice worker myself, it is very interesting to me to learn more about crimes, especially finding out more about crimes among female offenders’ because most of the time, we hear about crimes and the majority of the offenders are males. Therefore, I believe that it is important to find out more about crimes on the women's side and see what it is like and how they differ from the men. Unlike male offenders, female offenders have a different background in committing crimes. For instance, many female offenders experienced traumatic events during their childhood from an abusive family at the hands of their father. It often reoccurs down the road, but now with their intimate partners. According to Bach, “Children who are abused, particularly girls, are at risk of becoming repeat victims of violence throughout their lives. Herrenkohl (1998) said abused girls who repeatedly internalize their feelings may eventually reach a threshold at which their repressed emotions turn outward and aggressive — perhaps pushing them to the point of criminal behavior” (2015, p. 5). Women often depend on their partners, and women that fall into the loophole of bad decisions are influenced by their intimate partners that are also involved in illegal activities. While looking into women's crime incarceration, we see patterns of women coming in and out of the corrections system because they do not have the proper treatment and programs while incarcerated. For instance: According to Morash (1998), “Similarly, in 40 percent of the jail jurisdictions, jail administrators indicated no need for new models or approaches to holding women in jail, whereas administrators of women’s prisons noted many management problems resulting from crowding, lack of programming, and difficulties with classification and intake systems. Women's prison administrators also pointed to high staff turnover, the need for better-qualified staff, lack of parity in programming, and high numbers of women prisoners" (p. 3). Another reason is that women are often caught up in petty crimes yet to serve their time, which ultimately leaves them stuck inside jail. In contrast, women's incarceration has been on the rise, and most of these women prisoners are mothers. According to Bender (2021), it states, “Over half (58%) of all women in U.S. prisons are mothers, as are 80% of women in jails” (para 14), including many who are incarcerated and awaiting trial simply because they can't afford bail. In fact, according to OK Justice reform, “Most of these women are incarcerated for non-violent offenses” (para. 15). This research shows the nature of prisons for women, especially mothers, and how they are being treated while in labor. At the same time, many states in the United States still use restraints during a child’s birth, which causes many female prisoners to experienced trauma physically and mentally. On top of that, there are no laws to completely ban this practice in the United States, even when there is much evidence as to why it is not an ethical practice.