Experiences of interpersonal violence and criminal legal control: a mixed method analysis
From SAGE Open
Researchers have long claimed that physical abuse and marginalization lead to criminal activity; however, women in prison are taught to overlook socioeconomic issues and blame only themselves for their behaviour. This study confirms that there is a real connection between the type of abuse experienced by women, marginalization, and whether or not they will turn to drugs and criminal activity to cope with their experiences. The authors contend current psychiatric and popular discourse that portrays female incarceration as the result of poor choices and bad behavior “rather than identifying structural conditions that lead to imprisonment—including changes in laws, racist and sexist legislation, poverty, lack of resources and jobs, and social vulnerability over the course of one’s life.” This study used surveys and interviews with incarcerated or formerly imprisoned women. Having few or no options because of their marginalized socioeconomic positions, entrenched racial inequality, and repeated episodes of violence, respondents indicated that criminalized activities became survival mechanisms, which led to incarceration. The authors point to institutional change and support systems for victims of abuse as a way to prevent female criminal activity.