The Politicisation of Women’s Penal Policy

  • Gemma Birkett
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


Having outlined the overarching developments in penal policy from the post-war era, this chapter focuses on the different societal, media and political responses to women’s offending. Considering women’s offending as a social phenomenon, it explores fears surrounding independence and deviancy, highlighting how the changing social status of women (through emancipation and entry into the workplace) led to concerns about increasing levels of female crime (see Austin, 1981). Those who commit acts of crime or deviance are considered – in media, politics and society – to be doubly deviant, breaking the laws of ‘womanhood’ as well as ‘the land’. Analysing women’s offending as a media phenomenon, it highlights how portrayals of women offenders in the news media are unhelpful to penal progressives, often drawing on high-profile cases, lazy stereotypes and misplaced judgements. Analysing


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gemma Birkett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyCity, University of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

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