Critically Analyse the Use of Imprisonment for Young Females.

Critically analyse the use of imprisonment for young females.

This essay will critically analyse the use of imprisonment, specifically for young female offenders, based on historical conditions, current prison provisions, the use of statistics and both the physical and mental well being of the girls. In order to contextualise the imprisonment of women today, some historical awareness is necessary.

Although prisons had been in existence for some time for both male and females, punishment from the seventeenth century in Britain relied less on imprisonment, and more on public shaming, and punitive approaches such as stoning, being put in the stocks and even death (Carlen 2004).

Historically, prisons were established for men. In the mid nineteenth century there were no provisions for female remand because the number of offending females was limited, and for those that were imprisoned, were imprisoned with men.   The perception of female criminals was such that they were beyond redemption and even when they had committed the same or similar crimes as men, women were seen as much worse, as they were expected to have higher moral standards (Duckworth, 2002). The concept of women committing crimes as unnatural is further supported   by Carlen, as she explained the notion of lawbreaking is most naturally associated with male activity, and women who committed crimes were seen as ‘bad citizens’ and ‘unnatural women’ (2004:2). Duckworth also explains that in the mid nineteenth century, away from the privileged classes, there were thousands of young female children being sent out to earn a living; either legally in factories or quite often illegally involved in activities such as pick pocketing and prostitution.   Therefore despite perceptions of women criminals being anomalous, women were involved in crime from an early age.   This was because the young women were expected to bring in a source of income in poor, working class families (Duckworth, 2002). It may be that...