More Women Committing Crime

August 12, 1999

While overall crime rates are dropping nationwide, women are committing more felony crimes and violent crimes, according to Justice Department statistics.

  • Since 1980, the number of women in state and federal prisons has increased more than fourfold.
  • Drug offenses, vandalism and assaults by women have increased annually for the last three years.
  • While young men commit the majority of violent crimes, the number of crimes by women is increasing at a faster rate than that of men.
  • In 1997 the number of female prisoners rose 6.2 percent, compared to 5.2 percent of males -- with most of the increase due to drug-related crime -- and 79,624 women were incarcerated in state and federal prisons.

Experts agree that many women who commit crimes most likely grew up in a single-parent home or an environment in which violence was prevalent; they frequently have shown violence toward their siblings and have been labeled troublemakers in school; and they regularly used drugs or alcohol.

Source: Kristan Trugman, "While Overall Crime Rates Drop, More Women Are Committing Crimes," Insight, August 16, 1999.


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