It is estimated that 92% of all women in California
prisons have been battered and abused in their lifetimes.
there are 2,000 battered women in America who are serving
prison time for defending their lives against their batterers.
(Stacey Kabat, Remarks from presentation at Harvard School
of Public Health, Center for Health Communication, June 1991)
many as 90% of the women in jail today for killing men had
been battered by those men. (Allison Bass, "Women
far less likely to kill than men; no one sure why," The
Boston Globe, February 24, 1992, p. 27)
to data release in 1992 by the Georgia Department of Corrections,
of the 235 women doing time for murder or manslaughter in
Georgia, 44% killed a husband or lover. 96% of the women revealed
the presence of domestic violence in the relationship. (J.O.
Hansen, "Is Justice Taking a Beating?" The Atlanta
Constitution, April 26, 1992, A1-A7)
Murderess: A Psychosocial Study of Criminal Homicide (1978)
examined incarcerated female homicide offenders at one institution
and found that, of 43 women convicted of murder or voluntary
manslaughter, 30 had killed their male partners, 28 of whom
had been abusive.
60% of the cases where a woman killed her significant other,
the woman claims the victim assaulted or abused her at the
time of the crime. (Judith Haley, "A Study of Women
Imprisoned for Homicide," Georgia Department of Corrections,
June 1992, p. 16)
offenders dominated in murders motivated by possessiveness
(82%), abuse (75%), and arguments (63%), whereas females were
the vast majority of offenders in the category of self-defense
a study of 155 mate homicides in City of Jackson-ville, Florida,
1980-1986, at least 7 of the 24 offenders who claimed that
their actions were in self-defense were prosecuted by the
state; 6 six of them were found guilty. (Christine E. Rasche,
"Given' Reasons for Violence in Intimate Relationships,"
Homicide: The Victim/Offender Connection, ed. Anna Wilson
(Cincinnati, OH: Anderson, 1993) p. 88)
same study showed that among victims of abuse, females were
75% of the total, while victims of self-defense were 96% male.
average prison sentence of men who kill their women partners
is 2 to 6 years. Women who kill their male partners are sentenced
on average to 15 years, despite the fact that most women who
kill do so in self-defense (National Coalition Against
Domestic Violence, 1989).
males commit beating or strangulation homicides; women are
more likely to stab or shoot their victims. This opens women
to vastly harsher sentences with legal enhancements for use
of a weapon in the commission of the crime.
the Georgia study, 95% of the women in prison for homicide
had only one victim. 53% had killed their significant other
(i.e., legal spouse, common-law spouse, lover and ex-spouse/lover.)
(Judith Haley, "A Study of Women Imprisoned for Homicide,"
Georgia Department of Corrections, June 1992, p. 15)
women are eight times more likely than men to be killed by
their intimate partner. (Rennison and Welchans 2000) Estimates
of the number of women killed by husbands, boyfriends or former
partners range from 1,000 to 4,000 per year.
a survey of nearly 10,000 murder cases, women perpetrated
10.5% and men 89.5%. (Dawson and Langan 1994)
tend to be aggressors in homicide cases even when the homicides
are committed by women. (Casenave and Zagh 1992)
of women are in prson for non-violent crimes (prostitution,
theft, drug use, etc.).
of women in prison in California are mothers. Their children
have the highest infant mortality rate in the state. Women
prisoners with children three years or under can lose their
parental rights forever after six months, and the children
Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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