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INTRODUCTION TO WOMEN AND CRIME The majority of crimes committed by females are not violent in fact the percentage of women incarcerated for violent offenses been steadily declining over the past two decades While the percentage of crimes committed by women has always been significantly smaller than those of men it is important to note the major increase in the number of women arrested for criminal activity specifically non-violent over the past few decades In 1980 there were a little over 12000 women incarcerated in our nations prisons that number increased to almost 80000 by 1997 The rate of female imprisonment is rising more quickly than that of men since 1985 the annual rate of growth in female imprisonment has averaged 111 percent which is higher than the male growth rate of 76 percent Additionally over the past three decades womens share of total imprisonment went from 3 percent in 1970 to 64 in 1997 showing that it has more than doubled over the past three decades The rate of womens imprisonment is at a current historic high at 54 out of every 100000 women compared with 6 out of every 100000 in 1925 Chesney 1998 Among social scientists there are generally two observations that are associated with female criminality As stated previously the first and most widely known is that women have consistently maintained a lower rate of officially recorded crimes than males In every category except prostitution men commit crimes at much higher rates Steffensmeier and Allan The second is that this low rate of female criminality has not been adequately studied Throughout most of our nations history mainstream criminology research and literature has virtually ignored the female criminal and placed a far greater emphasis on the male offender Steffensmeier and Allan Feminists in the past have viewed this as another instance of females being viewed by social scientists as invisible Recently however criminologists have begun to study the female offender
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