1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Women's Experiences of Criminal Justice

Edited By Isla Masson, Natalie Booth Copyright 2023
    592 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This Handbook brings together the voices of a range of contributors interested in the many varied experiences of women in criminal justice systems, and who are seeking to challenge the status quo.

    Although there is increasing literature and research on gender, and certain aspects of the criminal justice system (often Western focused), there is a significant gap in the form of a Handbook that brings together these important gendered conversations. This essential book explores research and theory on how women are perceived, handled, and experience criminal justice within and across different jurisdictions, with particular consideration of gendered and disparate treatment of women as law-breakers. There is also consideration of women’s experiences through an intersectional lens, including race and class, as well as feminist scholarship and activism. The Handbook contains 47 unique chapters with nine overarching themes (Lessons from history and theory; Routes into the criminal justice system; Intersectionality; Sentencing and the courts and community punishments; Specific offences; Incarcerated women’s experiences; Mothers and families; Rehabilitation and reintegration; Practitioner relationships), and each theme includes contributions from different countries as well as the experiences of contributors from different stages in their own journey.

    International and interdisciplinary in scope, this Handbook is essential reading for scholars and students of criminology, sociology, social policy, social work, and law. It will also be of interest to practitioners, such as social workers, probation officers, prison officers, and policy makers.


    1. Introduction
    2. Isla Masson and Natalie Booth

    3. Womanhood as Weakness, or Why Witches Were Witches
    4. Trace M Maddox

    5. Infanticide Cases, Expert Evidence, and the Sympathetic Jury, in Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century England
    6. Rachel Dixon

    7. ‘Completely innocent or wholly culpable’: Judicial outcomes of women tried for homicide in pre-modern England
    8. Stephanie Brown

    9. Shifting trends and discourses in women’s imprisonment in Aotearoa New Zealand
    10. Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour and Kirsten Gibson

    11. Criminalised Women and the Risk Lens
    12. Hazel Kemshall

    13. Women’s desistance: A review of the literature through a gendered lens
    14. Madeline Pertrillo

    15. Perpetrators and Victims: Women, double deviance, and the criminal justice system
    16. Vicky Seaman and Orla Lynch

    17. "She Should Have Known": Oversimplified narratives of the victim-offender cycle within women human trafficking ‘offenders’
    18. Alexandra L. A. Baxter

    19. Care-Experienced Women in the Criminal Justice System
    20. Claire Fitzpatrick, Jo Staines and Katie Hunter

    21. Family violence, homelessness and criminalised women: accounting for systemic violence in the Australian post-release milieu
    22. Rebecca Bunn and Elisa Buggy

    23. Domestic abuse as a driver to women’s offending
    24. Jo Roberts

    25. Muslim Women Moving on from Crime
    26. Sofia Buncy, Alexandria Bradley and Sarah Goodwin

    27. Making visible the invisibalised voices of criminalised women in Australia
    28. Debbie Kilroy and Tabitha Lean

    29. Women, Religion and Criminal Justice in Ireland
    30. Lynsey Black

    31. Women’s Experiences of Criminal Justice System in Pursuit of Inheritance: Voices from Pakistan
    32. Iram Rubab

    33. Lived Realities of Spouses of Incarcerated Husbands in India
    34. Rashmi Choudhury

    35. Lesbian Experiences of the Criminal Justice System: A Practitioner Perspective
    36. Kath Wilson

    37. At the intersection of disadvantage, disillusionment and resilience: Black women's experiences in prison
    38. Angela Charles

    39. Remanding Women: Exploring the scope for using therapeutic jurisprudence as a framework in the bail and remand decision-making process
    40. Lisa Mary Armstrong

    41. Being a girl: does it matter in the Belgian Youth Court?
    42. Sofie De Bus

    43. Young Women in Norwegian Courts: A Study of Contemporary Control Strategies
    44. Jane Dullum, Elisabeth Fransson and Sven-Erik Skotte

    45. Assessing the viability of problem-solving courts for criminalised women
    46. Carly Lightowlers and Nicole Benefer

    47. The Gendered Harms of Criminalisation: Buying abortion pills on the internet in Northern Ireland
    48. Goretti Horgan and Linda Moore

    49. The meaning of gender in sentencing domestic violence homicide cases in Poland
    50. Anna Matczak and Emilia Rekosz-Cebula

    51. Being female sex offenders inside the criminal justice system: The Colombian case
    52. Angie Borda-Montenegro

    53. Situating police legitimacy: The accounts of substance-using and sex-working women in Nigeria
    54. Ediomo-Ubong E. Nelson and Aniekan S. Brown

    55. Out of sight, out of mind: The incarceration of cognitively disabled women in Australian prisons
    56. Julie-Anne Toohey

    57. Incarcerated Women’s Experiences in Spain
    58. Carmen Navarro, Anna Meléndez and Jenny Cubells

    59. Peer mentoring for women in prison: experiences of power, control and reliving past trauma
    60. Melissa Henderson and Rosie Meek

    61. Carceral collectivism and incarcerated women’s experiences in Lithuania and Latvia
    62. Rūta Vaičiūnienė, Arta Jalili Idrissi and Artūras Tereškinas

    63. Maternal Imprisonment: The enduring impact of imprisonment on mothers and their children
    64. Lucy Baldwin and Sophie Mitchell

    65. Imprisoned Women and Reproductive Health: A Site of Reproductive Rights Violation?
    66. Emma Milne and Vicki Dabrowski

    67. Mother-infant separations in prison: Why does context matter?
    68. Klare Martin and Claire Powell

    69. Mothering within a Prison Nursery – a review of the literature
    70. Jacqui Johnson

    71. (Wo)men in the middle: the gendered role of supporting prisoners
    72. Natalie Booth and Isla Masson with Ferzana Dakri

    73. A holistic approach to understanding and responding to the multiple and complex needs of women prison leavers in Wales: breaking the cycle of homelessness and reoffending
    74. Caroline Gorden and Kelly Lockwood

    75. "It is nice to know that for once someone is not just saying that they’re backing your corner, they are actually fucking backing your corner": The significance of relational factors in women’s experiences of probation intervention
    76. Natalie Rutter and Julie Eden-Barnard

    77. Women, the pains of imprisonment and public health interventions
    78. Jennifer Ferguson and Maggie Leese

    79. A Darker Tale of Exceptionalism: How Punitive Drug Policies Impact Women’s Experiences of Desistance in Sweden
    80. Robin Gålnander and Linnéa Österman

    81. Accounting for the gendered nature of ‘collateral consequences’ of a criminal record
    82. Nicola A. Collett

    83. A New Emancipatory Script: gendered post-sentence discrimination and experiences of reintegration
    84. Caroline Bald, Rachel Tynan and Olivia Dehnavi

    85. Experiencing the Juvenile Legal System as a Girl: Lessons from Gender-Responsive Approaches and Trauma-Informed Care
    86. Nicole C McKenna, Valerie R Anderson, Eurielle Kiki, and Destinee L Starcher

    87. Imprisoned Women’s Experiences of Trust in Staff-Prisoner Relationships in an English Open Prison
    88. Sarah Waite

    89. Supervising women in the community: A view from Catalonia
    90. Cristina Vasilescu

    91. ‘I don’t know where to fit...how to fit back in...as a mum...as a person’: Exploring the implications for practitioners of women’s experiences of resettlement following short-term custody
    92. Laura Haggar

    93. "She has nothing really when she goes out of prison": Community-based practitioners’ perceptions of young women’s pathways through the criminal justice system in Scotland

    Annie Rose Crowley



    Isla Masson is a Criminologist and Researcher at The Open University. Her research interests include women in the criminal justice system, motherhood, incarceration, remand, care leavers and restorative justice. Her book Incarcerating Motherhood (Routledge, 2019) was based on her doctoral research, which explored the longevity of short terms of incarceration on mothers. She is a trustee at The Boaz Project, which is a therapeutic work environment for adults with learning disabilities, and previously volunteered with the Independent Monitoring Board.

    Natalie Booth is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Bath Spa University.  Her doctorate explored ‘maternal imprisonment and family life’ resulting in a book revealing the previously untold experiences of those charged with the responsibility of looking after children of female prisoners ‘from the caregivers’ perspectives’ (2020). Her written work also contributes to our understanding about the maintenance of relationships and family contact during imprisonment, mothers and women in prison and developments in penal policy relating to women and families.