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Female Crime Trends, 1960-1995 (From Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice: Original Feminist Readings, P 191-211, 2001, Claire Renzetti and Lynne Goodstein, eds. -- See NCJ-197570)

NCJ Number
Darrell Steffensmeier
Date Published
21 pages
Based on an analysis of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and other data, this chapter examines trends in female arrests for various crimes, particularly those that significantly increased or decreased between 1960 and 1995.
The distribution of offenses for which both males and females were arrested has changed, but relative to males, the profile of the female offender has not changed. Over the period examined, both sexes were arrested largely for minor crimes, i.e., theft, fraud, drugs, and drinking), but the female profile was slanted more toward minor theft/fraud and prostitution, with the male profile tending more toward violent and serious property offending. Also, females have made arrest gains, albeit small gains, in many UCR offense categories; however, the most significant change in the female percentage of arrests involved the overall increase in property crimes, particularly minor thefts and frauds. Further, female-to-male involvement in serious or violent crime has held steady since 1960. Gender differences in the quantity and quality of crimes continue to be consistent with traditional gender-role expectations, behaviors, and opportunities. There are at least six plausible explanations for these trends and patterns in female arrests. This chapter groups and discusses them under the following headings: law and the organizational management of crime; gender equality; economic adversity of females and increased inner-city community disorganization; expanded opportunities for female-type crimes; shifts in the underworld; and trends in drug dependency. The author advises that each of these explanations should be viewed as a series of hypotheses in need of empirical testing. 1 table, 3 notes, 60 references, and 3 discussion questions