SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Anumba, N., Dematteo, D., & Heilbrun, K. (2012). Social functioning, victimization, and mental health among female offendersCriminal Justice and Behavior, 39, 1204–1218.

Abstract: Females who have experienced victimization or abuse during childhood tend to have poorer outcomes in adulthood with regard to criminal behavior, mental health, and social relationships. Although scholars have hypothesized that female offenders may benefit from programming that emphasizes empowerment and healthy relationships, empirical examination of this idea remains limited. Using a sample of 300 female offenders, this study empirically explored whether a history of victimization is a risk factor for future mental health problems and criminal behavior, and whether positive social functioning serves as a protective factor for females with histories of victimization. The results indicated that victimization history in this sample may not be associated with recidivism risk but with vulnerability to stress and mental health problems. In addition, the presence of social resources such as education and noncriminal friends appeared to act as a buffer against stress experienced as a result of life events.

Journal Article 2: Brewer, V. E., Marquart, J. W., Mullings, J. L., & Crouch, B. (1999). Female drug offenders: HIV-related risk behavior, self-perceptions and public health implicationsCriminal Justice Policy Review, 9, 185–208.

Abstract: One-third of women entering U.S. prisons between 1986 and 1991 were drug offenders (Bureau of Justice Statistics 1993). In turn, between 1991 and 1995, the number of HIV-positive prisoners grew at about the same rate (38%) as the overall prison population (36%) (BJS 1997). This paper describes 188 drug-offending females upon admission to a state prison, with an emphasis on their self-reported HIV-related behavioral histories. We analyze the self-reported health histories, drug and sexual high-risk behaviors, and self-perceptions of risk of these women. We also examine their attitudes toward drugs and alcohol as a personal problem and toward treatment, as compared to property and violent offenders.

We find that drug-offending females have histories of multiple HIV/AIDS-related risk behaviors, yet perceive their HIV infection risk as low. Unlike women incarcerated for property or violent offenses, a significant proportion of drug offenders with personal drug and alcohol problems is interested in participating in substance abuse treatment. These findings support our contention that correctional administrators have a narrow, yet critical, window of opportunity to provide drug and alcohol treatment, AIDS education, and self-efficacy training to these women during their few years of incarceration.

Journal Article 3: Barnett, B. (2006). Medea in the media: Narrative and myth in newspaper coverage of women who kill their children. Journalism7, 411–432.

Abstract: In reporting news stories about maternal infanticide, journalists and sources employ the narrative of the flawed mother in explaining why women killed their children. A qualitative analysis of 250 US news articles over a 12-year period found that journalists characterized murderous mothers in oppositional terms, as either superior nurturers driven to insanity because they cared so much, or inferior caretakers who shirked their maternal duties because they cared so little. This focus on the individual allowed journalists to organize and simplify complex information from diverse sources; however, reporters missed opportunities to present infanticide in the broader context of gender inequity and to examine disparities in punishments for women convicted of murdering their children. Journalists’ accounts of the causes of maternal violence - postpartum illness, economic stress, alcohol and drug abuse, too early and unplanned pregnancies, and loss of hope for the future - too often were superficial, reinforcing the myth of the all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful mother, and ignoring the fact that infanticide is a crime that has complex causes. Journalists can strengthen reporting on maternal violence by critically examining stereotypes of mothering as ‘natural’, and therefore easy, and by questioning the availability of family, community, and institutional resources for women who cannot or do not mother well.