U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Violence Against Women and Women's Involvement in Crime: Findings From Studies of Women in Prison (Video)

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2002
0 pages
This is a video presentation of a report on NIJ-sponsored (National Institute of Justice) research in progress that is focusing on the prevalence, nature, and impact on criminal offending of violent victimization of incarcerated women.
In addition to presenting findings to date from the study, the researcher also briefly profiles three related research projects in which she is involved. The sample of women interviewed for the research consisted of 37 women inmates of the Cook County Jail (Chicago, Illinois). Seventy percent of these women had been physically abused in prior intimate relationships, with 55 percent having received significant injuries and 46 percent having received medical treatment. For 35 percent of the abused women, weapons of some type were used by the perpetrator. Seventy percent of the abused women reported frequent arguments with their abusers that led to physical altercations. Twenty-five percent of the women reported having been sexually abused. Very few of the women had sought police or social-service help to deal with their abuse. They tended to mistrust the value or usefulness of seeking help from formal institutions. Further, the women lived in low-income neighborhoods with little social capital, where exposure to criminal lifestyles was common. The women's illegal activity was frequently related to threats of violence against them from males who needed their assistance in committing crimes. The threats were credible because of prior physical abuse from these men. The women tended to remain in abusive relationships and criminogenic neighborhoods because these were familiar worlds, and there was no obvious support for the development of an alternative lifestyle. These findings suggest the need for the commitment of financial and social resources for low-income communities, such that abused women can receive resources for coping positively with various traumas. Three other projects mentioned by the researcher are a study of public policy barriers to re-entry after release, a qualitative study of the offending patterns of girls in low-income communities, and profiles of women who are resilient in adopting positive coping mechanisms in responding to trauma. Questions from the studio audience follow the presentation.

Date Published: May 1, 2002