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Criminal law homework help

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Nursing Research Topics Suggestions

  • Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) and Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM)

  • Social Control Theory

  • Social Disorganization Theory

  • Social Learning Theory

  • Edge Ethnography

  • Experimental Criminology

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  • Wrongful Convictions

  • Prison System

  • Problem-Solving Courts

  • Public Health and Criminal Justice

  • Racial Profiling

  • Youth Gangs

  • Fieldwork in Criminology

  • Program Evaluation

  • Quantitative Criminology

  • Crime Mapping

  • Campus Crime

  • Child Abuse

  • White-Collar Crime

  • Wildlife Crime

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  • Domestic Violence

  • Citation and Content Analysis

  • Drugs and the Criminal Justice System

  • Felon Disenfranchisement

  • Crime Classification Systems

  • Elder Abuse

  • Capital Punishment

  • Restorative Justice

  • Community Corrections

  • Crime Prevention

  • Criminal Specialization

  • Drug Courts

  • Forensic Science

  • Offender Reentry

  • Police–Community Relations

  • Sentencing

  • The Police

  • Environmental Crime

  • Hate Crime

  • Homicide

  • Juvenile Court

  • Juvenile Justice

  • Mass Media, Crime, and Justice

  • Offender Classification

  • Human Trafficking

  • Identity Theft

  • Juvenile Delinquency

  • Organizational Crime

  • Prostitution

  • Robbery

  • Criminal Courts

  • Criminal Justice Ethics

  • Criminal Law

  • Sex Offenses

  • Terrorism

  • Theft and Shoplifting

  • Victimization

  • Weather and Crime

  • Employment and Crime

  • Families and Crime

  • Gender and Crime

  • Feminist Criminology

  • Labeling and Symbolic Interaction Theories

  • Criminal Justice Theories

  • Critical Criminology

  • Cultural Criminology

  • Cultural Transmission Theory

  • Deterrence and Rational Choice Theory

  • Life Course Criminology

  • Psychological Theories of Crime

  • Routine Activities Theory

  • Self-Control Theory

  • Strain Theories

  • Theoretical Integration

  • Crime Reports and Statistics

  • Criminology as Social Science

  • Age and Crime

  • Aggression and Crime

  • Criminology and Public Policy

  • History of Criminology

  • Citizenship and Crime

  • Education and Crime

  • Guns and Crime

  • Immigration and Crime

  • Intelligence and Crime

  • Mental Illness and Crime

  • Neighborhoods and Crime

  • Peers and Crime

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  • Classical Criminology

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  • Race and Crime

  • Religion and Crime

  • Social Class and Crime

Criminal law sample Papers

Sample #1

Recidivism in the Criminal Justice System

Recidivism is undoubtedly one of the greatest concerns of the criminal justice system. In fact, it is one of the features considered when discussing important criminal justice topics such as the deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. According to xxx recidivism is a situation where a person relapses with criminal behavior. The behavior occurs mostly after receiving intervention or sanctions for a previous crime. It is measured through criminal acts that resulted in the arrest, the conviction or the return to prison of the offender with or without a new sentence during a period of three years following the prisoner's release. Indeed mass incarceration is America's one of the most pressing social issues. Recent statistics by the Bureau of justice statistics studies have found that out of 404,638 prisoners released from prison in 2005, 67.8% were rearrested within 3 years of release, and 76.6% after five years. The statistics also show that the majority of rearrests constituted property offenders. Therefore, this paper will look at the existing literature on recidivism and the current state of affairs with a special focus on the effects on the economy, social-cultural consequences, political systems, education systems, technological systems, and the criminal justice system in general. It will also discuss some of the important measures for reducing the recidivism.

Literature review

            Various studies have been conducted on important factors relating to recidivism. One such factor is the effect of education in prison. Several studies suggest that post-secondary education in prison is important in lowering recidivism as well as post-release employment. For instance, Duwe and Clark (2014) found 11.5% increase in employment resulting from a post-secondary degree. Despite the analysis demonstrating the positive effects of post-secondary education in reducing recidivism and increasing employment chances, the signing of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 saw the shutdown of nearly 350 college prison programs. This was because of prisoners' lost access to Pell grants.

Steuer, Smith, and Tracy (2001) conducted a quasi-experimental design study to determine the relationship between correctional education, recidivism, and employment. They found that within a period of three years, the wages of participants, as reported to the state labor departments, were higher for the education participants as compared to those who did not participate. The study also found that after the completion of the program, re-arrest rates dropped by 11%, convictions by 8%, and recidivism by 10% in the educated groups.

Studies to examine the financial impacts of offender education also showed significant savings. In a comparison analysis by Bazos and Hausman (2004), evidence showed that about 600 crimes are prevented for every 1 million dollars spent to facilitate correctional education. On the other hand, about 350 crimes are prevented for every 1 million dollars the government invests in incarceration. This, without doubt, saves the state and taxpayers thousands if not millions of dollars.

While many studies put emphasis on the value of investing in prisoner education, it is important to evaluate other effects of education in prison. In fact, many studies overemphasize outcomes that are statistically verifiable other than the actual, demonstrated life improvement of the prisoners. This opinion is supported by various researchers who believe in the person-centered approach which provides an alternative to the deficit model that views a prisoner as one who needs to be repaired by professionals. Burnett and Maruna (2006) posit that it is time for the government and the criminal justice system, in general, to focus on why and how prisoners are influenced by certain programs rather than what works.

As regards prosocial effects, research shows that providing education helps in mitigating the potentially debilitating psychological effects that accompany prison life. For instance, Costello (2014) argues that giving the incarcerated persons the opportunity to work towards an education that better the post-release status encourages them to rise to the occasion owing to the motivation and feeling that they are respected and valued. Research on past prisoner education has shown how taking responsibility of former actions, feeling smatter, and wanting to give back to the society have helped prisoners to reshape their identities and behaviors to return us redeemable members of society.

Although the programs have proved effective with women, there is still much criticism from scholars regarding how the model is less sensitive to tap the true risk and needs of female inmates who are most underrepresented in the assessment models and instruments construction. What emerges is that female prisoners have more prevalent childhood histories of depression and post-traumatic stress, dysfunctional relationships, sexual abuse, and substance abuse as compared to male prisoners. Moreover, there are disparities regarding the types of offenses committed by women, which tend to be less violent drug offenses. Rehabilitative program assessments findings show that women suffer more than men due to emotional and internalizing difficulties.

Why the pool of high-quality studies is continuing to grow by the day, there is a growing movement within prisons that advocate for contemplative and mindfulness-based programs in addressing emotional regulation, mental health, substance abuse, and recidivism needs. sufficient evidence shows that contemplative approaches are effective in improving symptoms that are directly associated with criminogenic risks such as criminal thinking, anger, posttraumatic stress, drug and alcohol addiction, and hostility (Perelman et al., 2012). Consequently, compassion training boosts positive affect, self-compassion, thoughts combating shame and self-criticism, and compassionate response to the needs of others.

In terms of prison education and prison environment, reliable studies reveal the important role education plays in creating a most civilized community in the prisons. (Human Impact Partners, 2015) posit that because it is a known fact that education creates a positive surrounding environment of the prison, studying the relationships that create that environment is important. Such valuable information can be obtained from the perceptions and relationship of the correctional officers as well as the inmates. For instance, there is a positive correlation between the officer's perceptions of inmates with a correctional officer’s job stress, which ultimately affects the overall prison environment. In addition to the role of acting as intermediates between the inmates and prison officers, correctional officers help inmates solve the life issues inside the prison. Nonetheless, they become the face of many problems such as overcrowding and limited resources in the prisons. The stress associated with such issues is mostly passed to the inmates, thereby causing an unfavorable prison environment.

The Current State of Affairs

While acknowledging that much has changed in the recent past, recidivism is still a major issue that requires critical attention. In an article by TCR Staff, Sessions is quoted complaining that recidivism rates are still unacceptably high. What that means is that taxpayers continue to incur huge costs, more crime, and more dangerous work for the law enforcement officers. As a result, Trump's leadership, through the department of justice, aims at improving outcomes for those reintegrating into society.

Common Types of Reoffending and Causes

Some of the offenses that are currently associated with recidivism include drug offenses and sexual offenses. Research shows that there is a high likelihood of drug dependent offenders to return to prison compared to other offenders. In the US, drug use relapse rates are estimated at more than 80%. Further, re-arrest are consistently placed around 70%. This is without a doubt a huge problem. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 50% of drug-dependent inmates have a previous imprisonment history as compared to 31% of other inmates. In New South Wales, for example, about 80% of inmates who are heroin independent were taken back to prison within two years of the release. This is a huge population compared to about 44% of all other prisoners (Harkins, Howard, Barnett, Wakeling, & Miles, 2014).

As regards sexual reoffending, Recidivism is mostly associated with denial. Within the criminal justice system, sexual offenders who refuse to take responsibility for their actions are deemed likely to re-offend. While sentences can be reduced to those who offer guilty pleas, those in denial have lesser chances of early release. It's also important to mention that denial is closely related to the type of sexual offending (Clark, Dolan, & Farabee, 2017). For instance, an offender who commits a sexual offense with a relative or close family member (incest) is likely to be in denial, which increases the risks of reoffending.

Reasons for High Recidivism Rates

The high recidivism rates experienced in the United States and globally, are closely associated with risk factors such as young age, negative peer associations, substance abuse, prior criminal history, and antisocial personality disorder. Such degree of consistency in the risk factors is striking and even though mentally disordered offenders, general adult offenders, and sexual offenders tend to be treated differently by the health and corrections systems, they share the majority of the aforementioned risk factors.

Effects of Recidivism Rates

Undoubtedly, high recidivism rates negatively affect other parts of the society. For instance, high recidivism affects the economy, social/cultural consequences, education systems, political systems, technological systems, and the criminal justice system in general.

On the surface, recidivism doesn't look like a crippling issue. It looks simple because an inmate simply leaves the prison, returns to crime, and again returns to prison. While the process seems fairly of offender-centric, there are lots of hidden costs and parties that ought to be considered. In any case, the major concern of the American people is not really the higher quality of life for wrongdoers, but to see that victimization and associated costs such as criminal justice costs, policing costs, and other costs are reduced to a greater extent. With such a perspective in mind, recidivism affects various entities as follows:

Crime Victims

One of the most unfortunate groups affected by crime are the innocent victims. Prison education only comes into effect after the victim of crime has been impacted. In fact, the major goals of education and rehabilitation in prisons is to deter future crimes and consequently, future victimization. Therefore, a victim is created every time a prisoner is released from custody and goes on to re-offend. Fighting recidivism is not just for a better, crime-free environment, but also for one less victim (Zoukis, 2017)

The economy

Recidivism is a huge problem that is currently encroaching on our state and national economies. In the past decade, nearly every state in the US has experienced escalated costs of state prisons. Massachusetts, for instance, spends over 500 million yearly on its prison system. Nationwide, the total expenditure on corrections exceeds 60 billion every year (Zoukis, 2017). This is seriously huge amounts of dollars in taxes being spent on a system that fails nearly every time. It is important to note that with each new recidivist, a potentially new victim is created, yet more taxes are allocated to reincarceration. Interestingly, more funds are cut from essential social services and early education programs, which aid in stopping crime in the first place. As aforementioned, the purpose of prison education is to stop the continuing and what can be described as an inter-generational cycle of crime. If the government can spend funds on creating sustainable prison education programs, the savings realized from the reduced recidivism rates have the potential to pay for the programs. This benefit is further the realized when educated ex-prisoners get employment, are able to pay taxes, and contribute financially to the communities they live in by engaging in business.

American prisons

Recidivism rates burden even the prisons that are designed to house offenders. With the growth and increase in a number of inmates, there's need for prison systems to find ways that are constitutionally compliant with the ever-increasing populations. In most cases, they do so without sufficient or additional funding. As a result, prisons are overcrowded further aggravating the worst aspects of incarceration, including misconduct, unrest, security concerns, and violence. It is easy to vilify prison administrators. In fact, there are those who believe and suggest that the prison administrations do not want former prisoners to succeed(Zoukis, 2017). This is far from the truth. As a matter of fact, the truth is that every case of recidivism creates yet another prisoner that the administration is expected to care for, which is basically a burden. This burden is greatly felt on essential services such as recreation, bed-space, health, and other essential services, which are already underfunded (Zoukis, 2017).

Socially, recidivism is a plague on the American society. It not only destroys the lives of the prisoners but also their families and the community they live in. The American taxpayer is not spared either. Moreover, it creates a hostile and very harmful prison environment, which consequently harm those subjected to such correctional systems. Worse, recidivism creates new victims of crime whenever an ex-prisoner becomes a recidivist.

To understand the magnitude of recidivism in the United States, it would be important to note that the nation spends over $ 60 billion on prison systems alone with a limited portion located to first-time offenders (Zoukis, 2017). As aforementioned, this is huge money drained or cut from early education initiatives and other critical social services. Regardless of whether one has been a victim of a crime or a criminal, atrocious recidivism in the US has definitely impacted them.

The most annoying thing with the current state of affairs, and what should offend all Americans, is that the current high rate of recidivism is more of a public policy decision. The majority of people do not like the high recidivism rate. Nonetheless, there are groups that find it easier to live with the high recidivism rate than address the political firestorm that would result if education in prison, as the main method of reducing recidivism, was to be expanded.

Indeed education has proved time and again to be the most effective, efficient, and cost-effective method of reducing recidivism. Sadly, it is often discarded on the basis that it provides privileges to the undeserving persons. Also, policymakers do not want to appear soft on crime.

How to reduce Recidivism Rates

A growing body of research focuses on programs that work, the appropriate group to target, and appropriate mode of operation in order to maximize effectiveness. However, government officials who are in charge of overseeing significant investments targeting the reduction of recidivism do not always have sufficient information to support best practices and modern research. Some of the most effective programs aimed at reducing recidivism have three critical elements in common. They target people who are at risk of reoffending, they use best practices anchored on the latest research on what works best in reducing recidivism, and feature regular program reviews for quality monitoring.

Target the right people

To gain desirable effects on reducing recidivism, there's a need for programs to target people who are likely to re-offend. The purpose of actuarial risk assessment instruments is to gauge and determine the likelihood of an offender's future encounter with the criminal justice system (CSG Justice Center, 2018). Based on evidence-based research, significant reductions in recidivism rates are closely associated with the availability of intensive supervision and treatment for people who are considered at a high risk of reoffending. On the contrary, intensive programming for those considered at low risk of reoffending is unproductive, often leading to an increase in their likelihood of reoffending.

Evidence-based programs

Given the magnitude of recidivism, the main concern is what exactly are the types of programs the government should fund? Studies show that programs that address the principles of need, risk, and use behavioral approach and responsivity are the most effective as regards recidivism reduction. More specifically, it is important to target the most intensive supervision and services for those who are at high risk of reoffending. Moreover, programs should as well focus treatment on criminogenic needs such as attitude on criminal thinking. Lastly, the implementation of programs should be in a way that promotes active participation and also relies on methods that are effective for both people and the criminal justice in general. A good example is cognitive behavioral programs.

Cognitive behavioral programs

Cognitive behavioral programs are beneficial to people who have committed crimes because it helps them to identify their thinking patterns and how they influence their feelings, which consequently impact their actions. The programs comprise of social learning components that involve reinforcement of new skills, behaviors, and attitudes. It is also important to mention that some of the cognitive behavioral programs that target important areas like beliefs, attitudes, and values have the greatest potential of affecting future behavior of an individual including the choice of peers, the decision to abuse or not to abuse substances, and interactions with family. It’s important to note that most effective cognitive behavioral programs feature actions or are action-oriented, which means they include aspects of people practicing skills through role play with a trained instructor.

Monitor the quality of Program Delivery

Well managed and well-run programs that follow a proven set of best practices or model for reducing recidivism are vital to attaining the desired outcomes. For instance, programs with high assessment scores such as the correctional program assessment inventory as well as the correctional program checklist, which evaluate programs quality have the potential of reducing recidivism. Dimensioned tools have the capabilities to evaluate whether given program has the capacity or capability to deliver evidence-based interventions and services the high level of credibility and fidelity by observing programming, reviewing the curriculum, interviewing participants and staff, and assessing staff leadership and training.

Importance of the Core Elements when reviewing the Efficacy of Programmed Investments

If the programs fall short in implementing the three core elements discussed, investments in recidivism-reducing programs will collapse. While traditionally policymakers, as well as program administrators, have put emphasis on formal evaluations to examine and determine the effectiveness and appropriateness of program investments, the approach is too expensive and cannot be effectively conducted on each program. Furthermore, the approach does not provide timely results to be used for annual funding decisions. The appearance of program administrators to the three core elements discussed when undertaking an informal examination of the program could greatly help to identify problems that are most ready for a formal evaluation. This could further inform future funding decisions which will ensure policy-makers invest in programs that are very effective at reducing recidivism.

Taking CSG justice center, for instance, it has worked with various states and jurisdictions to account for recidivism reduction programming and also help and also in making a determination regarding implementation. A good example is where CSG justice center staff, through the justice program assessment (JPA) conducts intensive, systemwide assessments regarding the reduction rates of recidivism programming. The programming aims to identify whether high-risk people are well prioritized for participating in programs, high-quality programming is consistently delivered, and research-based curricula are used. Some states have used JPA to evaluate the prison and community-based programs and some of the analysis have revealed shortcomings that prompted the same states to overhaul the correctional programming (CSG Justice Center, 2018).

The CSG justice center, in collaboration with justice reinvestment initiative, works with state leaders as well as government agencies to come up with ways to improve program investments impact on reducing recidivism. Moreover, in partnership with the statewide adult recidivism reduction program, the CSG justice center enables state policymakers as well as corrections administrators to implement programs that are evidence-based and that incorporate the three fundamental elements as part of a research-based and holistic plan to reduce recidivism.

Generally, government and policymakers want to spend money as efficiently as possible. This is especially true considering that funding one program leads to the version of resources from other worthy efforts. Adherence to the three common elements discussed in the paper can help reduce recidivism and also give policymakers the tools to ensure that programs they intend to fund or are funding have the greatest positive impact on persons in the criminal justice system.

Technological Solutions

With technological advancements, one of the growing areas in reoffending prevention is the use of technology to reduce crime, improve data quality, and reduce racial disparities. For instance, ongoing studies focus on machine learning and many other types of prediction algorithms. With such technology in place, it is possible to use computer-generated risk scores to make informed decisions. Unlike the human mind, computers have a robust ability to analyze data more quickly and efficiently to determine patterns and criminal associations which reveal criminal records of those arrested within a matter of seconds. The efficacy of such electronic methods, however, require effective measures from social scientists.

The biggest problem in studying crime is that crime is only known if it's reported to the police. This is perhaps one of the reasons studies show sexual reoffending to be on the low against expectations because most incidences go unreported. With sensor technologies, the quality of information regarding criminal behavior would be improved. Information data warehouses and data mining technologies will also come in handy in establishing offender behaviors.

Implications and Conclusions

Indeed recidivism is important because it touches on critical criminal justice topics such as incapacitation, specific deterrence, and rehabilitation. Incapacitation basically refers to the effect a function has in stopping people from committing a crime by removing the offender from the community. On the other hand, specific deterrence seeks to determine whether the strategy achieves the intended purpose of stopping people from committing further crime. Rehabilitation is concerned with the extent to which a particular program is implicated in crime reduction by “repairing” the individual in a way through addressing personal needs or deficits.

Having discussed recidivism rates and the effects it has on various aspects of the community, this paper recommends that further research is conducted specifically in areas of developing sustainable measures to prevent the prevailing rates of recidivism. Examples of measures discussed in the paper include targeting the right people, using evidence-based programs, and monitoring the quality of program delivery.


Bazos, A., & Hausman, J. (2004). Correctional education as a crime control program. UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research, Department of Policy Studies.

Burnett, R., & Maruna, S. (2006). The kindness of prisoners Strengths-based resettlement in theory and in action. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 6(1), 83-106.

Clark, N., Dolan, K., & Farabee, D. (2017). Public health alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, Vol 23, Issue 3. Retrieved from

CSG Justice Center. (2018, June 4). Three Core Elements of Programs that Reduce Recidivism: Who, What, and How Well. Retrieved from CSG Justice Center:

Durose, Matthew R., Alexia D. Cooper, and Howard N. Snyder, Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010 (pdf, 31 pages), Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, April 2014, NCJ 244205.

Hanson, R. K. (2009). The psychological assessment of risk for crime and violence. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 50, 172-182.

Human Impact Partners. (2015). Turning on the tap: how returning access to tuition assistancefor incarcerated people improves the health of New Yorkers.

Steurer, S., Smith, L., & Tracy, A. (2001). OCE/CEA three state recidivism study. Correctional Education Association, 1–65.

Harkins, L., Howard, P., Barnett, G., Wakeling, H., & Miles, C. (2014). Relationships between Denial, Risk, and Recidivism in Sexual Offenders. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol 15, No. 4.

Zoukis, C. (2017). The Cost of Recidivism: Victims, the Economy, and American Prisons. Retrieved from Prison Education:

Sample #2

Sex Differences in Crime

There are different stereotypes for different crimes, especially when it comes to the gender of the person who committed the crime. For instance, some people believe that women are more likely to commit the crime of shoplifting while men are more likely to commit the crime of rape. Nonetheless, statistics show that these stereotypes are not true at all. Some of the most serious crimes are committed by women. In fact, women account for about 14% of violent offenders (Greenfield and Snell 1), yet it is not unusual to hear seeping statements that assault crimes are committed only by males. However, as stablished by Greenfield and Snell, three out of four violent offenders are females who commit simple assault (1). Moreover, crimes involving females vary across age; with some being committed by and women others by juvenile girls. They also estimate that up to 28% of violent offenders are juveniles, most of the violent crimes committed by females and juveniles being simple assaults.

There is also the belief that women require an accomplice to commit a crime. This assumption feeds into the stereotype that assumes that women cannot act independently, whether in crime or other positive actions. If one were to look at the crime of prostitution, women are very much in control of the crime process. In fact, as observed by Schwartz and Steffensmeier, females are more capable of engaging in and getting away with crime than their male counterparts in almost all crime categories, except prostitution (44). From personal observation, women engage in different forms of prostitution and solicitation than do men. On their part, very rarely do men engage in prostitution as suppliers of commercial sex services; instead, they are involved more as consumers of those services. Curiously still, men tend to get arrested more than women for the crime of solicitation.

            In the United States, women constitute not more than 20 percent of arrestees for different types of crime. However, the number of female arrestees reduces with more serious crimes (Law Library para 2). Since the early 1960s, female arrests for homicide and aggravated assault have significantly remained low than those of males. Females have also recorded less than five percent in arrests for serious property crimes of burglary and robbery. Beside prostitution, female representation in crimes such as larceny-theft, fraud, forgery and embezzlement has however increased in recent years (Schwartz and Steffensmeier 50). This is an indication that more women are engaging in fraud and forgery than other crimes. The rise in the number of employed women has also been proposed as an explanation for the rise in women’s involvement in white collar crimes. One can argue that women who hold offices have more access to personal information and are more likely to get away with identity theft and money laundering because society does not think women can commit such complicated crimes. On the other hand, men hold the highest arrest rates for big money schemes, such as bank robberies and grand larceny (Law Library para 2).

From the analysis so far, it is evident that tendencies to commit crime among females and males are quite complex. Some researchers hold the view that crimes by females have been increasing faster than those by males, and that the number of female arrestees has also increased substantially (Law Library para 4). This view may be true as far as petty property crimes are concerned. Indeed, according to Law Library, property crimes committed by females doubled between 1960 and 1975. This rise also saw an increase in the number of female arrests by about fifteen to thirty percent. Substance abuse, which for long had been dominated by males, has also been on the rise among females (Lal, Deb and Kedia 275). Moreover, women, especially those who take part in prostitution, tend to abuse drugs more than their male counterparts. Therefore, there is an inherent relationship between drug abuse and prostitution, particularly among females.

Studies also show that men are more likely to commit the crime of murder than do women. According to Lima, self-defense, usually against their abusive partners, is the main reason women commit the crime of murder, but the murders committed by men have other serious reasons (7). Additionally, more women are victims of murder compared to men. Generally, there seems to be an agreement among scholars that crimes by females are less serious and cause far less harm than those by men. Further, statistics indicate increased repeat offenses among males compared to males. Similarly, there are fewer female than male hardcore criminals (Law Library para 7). Therefore, rehabilitation is more effective among women than among men. In some cases, women who commit crimes have male accomplices, but women can also be the masterminds and sole perpetrators of crime.

For some women, crime is only a short-lived means to a given end. Further, women who are involved in gangs are usually accomplices to males (Shaw & Skywalker 3). Equally, juvenile delinquent females are less likely to become involved in gangs than juvenile males. Most of these female delinquents join a gang because they have a brother or boyfriend or any other male counterpart who is involved in the gang (Shaw & Skywalker 3). Evidently, males are more likely to dominate the gangs and the criminal subculture. However, as Shaw and Skywalker report, females seek a sense of belonging in the gangs (3). These authors also posit that sex is the common medium of exchange for female’s involvement in gangs, and most female gang members have a history of sexual abuse (3-4). Moreover, females in gangs have less freedom from their dominant male counterparts and hardly get the chance in leadership positions (Shaw & Skywalker 5). These views illustrate the subservient position that females occupy in the criminal enterprise.

The criminal justice system seems more lenient when dealing with female offenders. For instance, if a young female offender also happens to be a mother, a judge may take her motherly responsibilities into consideration when passing a sentence (Law Library para 9). Nevertheless, the general trend is that the justice system is no longer so inclined to be less lenient with female offenders, possibly because of the recent increase in female arrests. 

There is also the question of whether or not men are more violent than women. A cursory glance at crime reports and statistics seems to show that men commit more acts of violence than do women. However, there may be many serious crimes committed by women that go unreported because society tends to foreground compassion or pardon over punishment in dealing with female offenders. As such, it is important to realize that women are just as capable as men of committing violent and other crimes. Another crucial issue has to do with those crimes that women commit but which most people think are the preserve of males. Considering that prisons are overcrowding with men than with women, this view seems to hold some truth. Women account for less than five percent of the prison population while the rest 95%, accounting for 80,915, are men, half of them being imprisoned for the crime of murder (Abrahams para 1). These statistics illustrate the dominant position that males occupy in both commission of crime and incarceration.

The reasons proposed for men’s involvement in crime often include lack of education, past experiences of child abuse and neglect and financial motivations. Most men who commit heinous crimes like murder have a dark childhood, were raised by single parents or had no parents altogether. A study by Ipka has found that young boys tend to undergo more struggles during childhood than do young girls which render them susceptible to criminal behavior (para 7). Ipka specifically notes that many young males who end up in crime are likely to have suffered some degree of abandonment by one or both parents at some point during childhood (para 7). 

From the review above, men dominate the entire spectrum of crime from petty pick-pocketing to collar to capital crimes. Most criminologists have based their studies on male offenders, and there has been little research into the gender gap in crimes. Since there is no universally-accepted explanation for these gaps, theorists such as Steffensmeier and Allan have pointed to socialized roles and different behavioral expectations across gender (459). Some might argue that crime is a biological and not a sociological phenomenon. Such arguments hold, for instance, that men are more violent than women because men are stronger physically. In contrast, others may point out that most crimes are not violent, meaning they cannot be linked to physical differences. However, most scholars seem to agree that, for many other reasons, men tend to take more risks than women, making them more susceptible to crime.

Many women have committed crime with impunity because society tends to attribute less severity to the types of crimes they commit compared to men. Gender bias also seems to inform the sentencing process where some judges tend to be more lenient towards female than male offenders. Although men have a greater tendency to commit crime, there are still women who are averse to committing more serious crimes than men. Therefore, in present-day society, it is not uncommon to see women engaging in crime.



Works Cited

Abrahams, J. “The Telegraph: Why are 95% of the world’s prisoners men?” Telegraph. 5 February 2015. Accessed 1 May 2018.

Greenfield, L. A. and Snell, T. L. “Women Offenders.” In Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. U.S. Department of Justice, 2000. Print.

Ipka, U. “Consequences of Child Abandonment & Neglect.” Cambridge Community Television. 14 November 2013. Accessed 1 May 2018.

Lal, R., Deb, K. S. and S. Kedia. “Substance use in women: Current status and future directions.” Indian J Psychiatry, vol. 57, suppl 2, 2015, pp. S275-S285.

Law Library. “Gender and Crime - Differences between Male and Female Offending Patterns.” n.d. Accessed 1 May 2018.

Lima, G. C. “When Women Kill.” Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 2385. 2014. Accessed 1 May 2018.

Schwartz, J. and Steffensmeier, D. “The Nature of Female Offending: Patterns and Explanation.” In Ed. R. T. Zaplin, Female Offenders: Critical Perspectives and Effective Interventions, 2nd ed. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2008, pp. 43-75. Print.

Shaw, M. and Skywalker, L. Gangs, violence and the role of women and girls: Emerging themes and policy and programme options drawn from interviews with female gang members in Cape Town. The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, 2017. Print.

Steffensmeier, D. and Allan, E. “Gender and Crime: Toward a Gendered Theory of Female Offending.” Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 22, 1996, pp. 459-487.

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