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The western world has of recent seen very drastic and dramatic changes associated with the population of people imprisoned. The most profound change has been the significant increase in the proportion of female prisoners within a span of 10 years. According to Barry & Mclvor (2008), a research conducted in Scotland revealed a significant increase in the number of female prisoners, indicating that the custodial rate on a daily basis increased by 90% while the rate of custodial remand among the women heightened by 83%.

While female offending and the consequent imprisonment of women increases at an alarming rate, the trend has not only raised political concerns but also created a new look in to the whole issue. Barry & Mclvor (2008) argue that the judicial system has not been sufficient in addressing the gender-sensitive issue appropriately. According to Barry & Mclvor (2008) for instance, despite Scotland retaining its stronger focus on welfare than most parts in the UK, there is no reflection of this in the way female offenders are treated. As highlighted by Barry & Mclvor (2008), the treatment received by female offenders within the criminal justice system is not only harsh but also disproportionate.

Barry & Mclvor (2008) further highlight the various consequences of such a penalty discourse if underpinned by various ideological assumptions and several expectations based on the gender relations. As such, the increasingly risk-averse/punitive environment of the justice system may not singly address the broader issue of female offending hence need additional alternatives. It is therefore argued that immediate interventions at early phases of offending as well as appropriate methods of addressing stigma, abuse and needs among women are fundamental (Barry & Mclvor, 2008).


Barry, M. & McIvor, G. (2008).Chaotic lives: a profile of women in the criminal justice system in Lothian and Borders. Retrieved on August 22, 2013 from