n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Women's routes to crime and incarceration in South African correctional centres : implications for rehabilitation

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



This paper seeks to examine women's routes to crime and incarceration to illuminate the lived social realities of women in correctional centres. The motivation is derived from the fact that the female offender has not received a scholarly spotlight in South Africa. The author notes a general gender-blindness in the dominant literature on the routes to female offending in South Africa, which has culminated in over-concentration on the male offender. A focus on these routes is very important in that it deals with that social constituency that is vulnerable within societies and specifically correctional centres that remain over populated by male offenders. From interviews with incarcerated women, it was clarified what the existential circumstances of incarcerated women are, according to race, class and gendered subjectivities. Such interlocking experiences were gleaned from the women's socio-demographic profile, high levels of unemployment and limited skills among black women prior to incarceration, as well as gendered vulnerabilities, such as women being the sole income providers for their children as well as related dysfunctional relationships in marriage and romantic relationships. These gendered experiences are crucial to guide policies in respect of correctional assessment and rehabilitative and intervention programming during incarceration. The author will discuss the socio-cultural existential circumstances, as well as micro-entanglements that need to be taken into account as they impact on the reformulation of policies with respect to women's needs while incarcerated in correctional centres.

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