The Reasons and Causes of Why Women Commit Crime

Published 07 Jul 2017

This paper will examine the types and causes of why women commit crimes. It will also tell of the positive possibilities that can happen because of the knowledge of the types and causes of why they commit them. Why Do Women Commit Crimes

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In the United States, there have been an increasing number of women committing crimes. What many experts have been trying to figure out is why they are committing those crimes and is there a possible link between them. What they have discovered is that there are multiple causes to why women begin to commit crimes and those women usually stay within a certain category of crimes. Thankfully, since the reason behind those crimes is identified, society can implement programs to create a positive outcome.


The television show “Snapped” airs real cases about women offenders, choosing to concentrate their attention primarily on murder, yet the decision to focus on women who commit murder distorts the impression that when women do commit a crime, it is usually violent. Studies show that the actual trends identify that the majority of female offenders are convicted of non-violent crimes, primarily shoplifting and handling stolen goods and that eight in ten of those women are jailed for non-violent crimes. The majority of sentences women receive for their non-violent crimes are short, usually six months or less in 2004, but two of three women were reconvicted within two years in 2002, with the main increase with shoplifters (Smart Justice, 2007).

Causes and Patterns

Even though every person commits a crime for their own reason, and women are no different, the causes of women’s infractions can usually be restricted to a select number of reasons. Studies have shown that a high number of women offenders have similar backgrounds or share similar health history. They are usually victims of domestic violence, victims of child abuse, victims of drug abuse or victims of mental illness. One in every three women is from a minority group. That does not mean that minorities are more or less inclined to commit a crime, but that there is something stronger than race affecting these women (Smart Justice, 2007). That link is a low socioeconomic income, poor healthcare and a lack of education (Stansups, 2007). Even if a woman has the majority of those factors, it does not make her inclined to crime. A woman usually has to reach a point where she is tired of living the way she is. A woman may be tired of a spouse beating her and she decides to retaliate or she may be tired of not being able to feed her children and steals a gallon of milk to help feed them (Stansups, 2007).

Merits of the Problem

The good news is, the majority of women do not just wake up one day and decide to commit a crime, so there are ways to decrease the numbers of women in jail. People have been able to identify the similar links, trends and even how often women are reconvicted between female offenders, so society can help reform the convicted women and hopefully prevent possible offenders from ever entering jail. The best way to do that is through programs in the community and in jail.

Community Programs

The most important programs would be within the community and would let women know what a healthy relationship consists of and that no woman should tolerate abuse at the hands of another person, be it mental or physical.

The program should stress that if a woman does decide to commit a crime, she will be separated from her children for a certain period of time and that children need their mother (Smart Justice, 2007). Some women may be overwhelmed with the family situation they are in and do not know how to properly discipline their children while managing a family on a dwindling income. Those women should be given ways to discipline without venturing into child abuse territory. If the children reside in a two-parent household, the father should be invited to go to classes with the mother and learn how to aid and work as a unit.

Another aspect of the program should aid with managing finances and give the women resources where they may be able to get help within their community. Enabling the women to feel like they are making a difference and that it is not so hopeless for them that they need to turn to a criminal lifestyle to get what they need would make a huge impact.

Jail Program

The programs that available to women in jail should be focused on preventing them from becoming repeat offenders. Those programs should deal with drug rehabilitation and informing the women to know why they committed the crime and the reasons for their high rate of re-entering the system depending on their crime. Their program should also give them education in how to have a healthy relationship and how to stay clean, but also give them a list of resources of employers who may hire them even if they have a record. It is widely known that people who have a record have a harder time procuring employment, and that knowledge does not help them stay out of jail.

Let the women have the ability to make a decent living for their families. There should also be a follow-up program dedicated to ensuring that the women stay away from jail after being released and give them access to a person they can talk to when things may not go as well as they planned upon their release. If the community and the jails work together to help these women and enlighten them, whether within the community or after release, they may be able to decrease the amount of female offenders. Giving the women knowledge to have control over their own life and educating them will enable them to become better members of their community and society as a whole.

The problem can be resolved as long as we are able to empower them.


  • Smart Justice. (2007, November 26). Public say: stop locking up so many women .
  • Stansups, Lila. (2007). Why Do Women Commit Crimes. Associated Content .
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