Understanding Women's Pathways to Jail: A Life Event History Analysis of the Lives of Incarcerated Women

Sally S. Simpson, University of Maryland at College Park
Jennifer Castro, University of Maryland at College Park

The idea of divergent pathways to the criminal justice system has gained increasing theoretical and empirical attention in the past ten years. At issue is whether there is a single causal mechanism that increases the likelihood of criminality (e.g., criminal propensity) or whether there are multiple pathways to crime and, subsequently, to the criminal justice system. Of related interest are the questions of whether pathways diverge by gender or by the point of criminal justice contact. Using a Apathways approach,@ we examine the life experiences of 350 women incarcerated in the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC) to identify the different pathways of women to jail. Using life event history analyses, we explore how the pathways of these jailed women compare and contrast with the trajectories of women and men who appear in Daly's (1994) study of felony court.

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Updated 05/20/2006