An Analysis of the Prevalence and Nature of Violent Offending by Women

Barbara Koons-Witt, University of South Carolina
Pamela J. Schram, California State Univ., San Bernardino

Some scholars have suggested that the rising female prison population is due in part to an emerging violent female offender population. Are we seeing more violent female offenders in the criminal justice system? Critics of this argument would suggest no and point to evidence that female offending patterns have remained stable and that women continue to commit traditional offenses. While the arrest of women for violent crimes increased over the last decade by about fifty percent, the share of arrests for violent crimes by women still remains quite low. Much of the literature on women offenders focuses on the "typical" female offender by examining their nonviolent offenses and relating them to their life circumstances. In this paper we take a look at the "other" female offenders, violent female offenders. Our study analyzes data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in order to determine the prevalence of violent offenses for women. Further, the nature of violent offending is explored in relation to characteristics of the offender, victim, and incident.

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Updated 05/20/2006