Investigation of the Relationship Between Women's Incarceration and Male Intimate Partner Violence: Implications for System Response and Prevention

Alexa Adamo, Georgia State University
Phyllis Holditch, Georgia State University
Sarah L. Cook, Georgia State University

Since 1980, the number of female inmates in U.S. prisons has increased more than 500%. In Georgia, a woman's likelihood of going to prison is two times the national average. To address the rapid growth rate of women in prison and ways to prevent women's criminal involvement, it is critical to examine factors involved in their incarceration. High numbers of incarcerated women have histories of male intimate partner violence and, although other crimes are decreasing, male violence against women is increasing. Victims of intimate partner violence interact with the criminal justice systems at initial police contact, requests for protective orders, during prosecution, and in regard to their own criminal involvement. This qualitative study investigates incarcerated Georgia women's experiences of male intimate partner violence and the situational context of their crime. Current charges and the role of male intimate partners in the crime are examined in 400 women's prison records, their reports to the criminal justice system and in semi-structured interviews. Findings will be discussed in terms of the criminal justice system's responses to victims prior to their incarceration and the influences of male intimate partner violence on women's criminal behavior. Implications for policy and preventive interventions are described.

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Updated 05/20/2006