Women in the Criminal Justice System

Women in the Criminal Justice System

Women in the Criminal Justice System

Women in the Criminal Justice System


This third edition provides thoroughly updated information on the status of women in all aspects of the U.S. criminal justice system, from incarcerated women to professionals in the legal, law enforcement, and correctional fields. While concentrating on the present, Clarice Feinman traces changes in theories, goals, practices, and policies concerning women of different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds--be they offenders, professionals, or reformers--since 1800, with a focus on why changes occurred. This unique text is an important tool for filling gaps in information, continuity, and understanding of issues affecting women in the up-hill battle to transform this male-dominated system.


In preparing for this third edition of Women in the Criminal Justice System, I spent many hours talking to women in law enforcement, in the legal system, and in corrections. It became obvious that their attitude, behavior, and goals had changed since I conducted my interviews for the first edition (1980). The new professionals are more confident, secure, and optimistic. They have become "fighters," actively working with other women in their profession or as individuals for their right to advance within their chosen career, to advance to the top if they so desire. They recognize that in striving to reach the top, they stand on the shoulders of the women who fought to open the doors to opportunity. The success these women have achieved since the 1970s is due to the endless work of women on behalf of women and to their proven ability as professionals.

Some women have reached the highest position in their profession: two U.S. Supreme Court justices, the U.S. attorney general, and a few chiefs of police and commissioners of corrections. One-fourth of lawyers, judges, and law faculty and 44 percent of law students are women. Nineteen percent of correctional officers are women, and about three-fourths work: in male facilities. Only 9 percent of police officers are women. Minority women, in particular, have benefited from equal employment opportunities in law enforcement and corrections.

Lawsuits continue to be filed, but now the issues include promotions, partnerships, sexual harassment, pregnancy and family leave, and flexible work schedules. Even inmates are raising new legal issues: sexual harassment and abuse, parental rights of incarcerated mothers, medical care for AIDS/ HIV-infected inmates and aged inmates, and clemency for women who killed their abusers.

The professionals have new spirit and momentum, and for the first time since 1980, the political atmosphere in the nation is conducive for reform . . .

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