Women's perspectives on crime and criminal justice
King, Denise Michelle
This thesis is an exploratory analysis of women's offending in New Zealand. The criminal justice system deals regularly with the small number ( 1 7%) of women arrested for various crimes. This study is about the experiences of six women offenders who were subject to various court orders, administered by the Community Probation Service and the perspectives of nine women probation officers with experience in supervising them while subject to the orders. The questions asked of these 15 women related to their perspectives and experiences of women's offending: what makes a female law-breaker and how does she see herself compared to women who are not convicted offenders? How do women offenders see themselves within the structures of society and in particular, the criminal justice system? What is it about their lives that has led them into crime? And do they potentially see themselves in a life without crime? These questions were posed, using in-depth and semi-structured interview techniques, with women offenders and three focus group discussions with the nine probation officers. Most interactions took place in the South Island location of Christchurch, with one focus group also conducted with Dunedin probation officers. Data was analysed using either the question categories or other common themes emerging from the collection process. The most distinctive feature arising from the analysis was that women's crime was connected to their networks of personal and social relationships. There was no indication of arbitrary offending against society, despite their personal histories of victimisation, substance abuse and marginalisation by society. Women offenders reported both assistance and alienation at the hands of the criminal justice system in its attempts to meet their needs, despite the fact it is tailored to deal with men. The women involved in this study identified that women desisted from crime for personal reasons only, while respecting the boundaries the criminal justice system places on their behaviour. Women's crime was presented as purposive, as an adjustment made to meet their needs and as being responsive to society's requirements, to re-adjust their lives to fit with its needs. The cost of this to women offenders is enormous and recommendations are made to better support women as they negotiate their way out of their criminal lifestyles.
Degree Name: Master of Consumer and Applied Science
Degree Discipline: Community & Family Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis