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In Her Own Words: Women Offenders' Views on Crime and Victimization offers first-hand accounts of women's experience with crime and victimization and provides a rare opportunity for students to view the world from the perspective of the female offender. The text is designed to offer a surrogate experience--an inside view on how female law-breaking behavior overlaps with victimization in some cases, and how law breaking is a rational choice in others.
The authors of each article befriend, observe, and interview women who are involved in lawbreaking behaviors and may also themselves be victimized. Topics include sex work, drugs, violent crime, property crime, desistance from crime, and women as victims of crime. Students will encounter women who have engaged in prostitution, murder, robbery, drug dealing and gang activities--all of whom discuss their motives, perceptions, decision-making strategies, and rationalizations for crime.
The data from these ethnographic studies provide abundant description and detail about the personal experiences and perspectives of offenders so that readers understand the commonalities shared by both criminalized and victimized women. In every case, however, the story is told from the perspective, and in the words of, the offender.
In Her Own Words takes a "pathways to crime" approach and assumes that present cultural values define what is considered illegal, immoral, or in need of government intervention. The book places the interviews in a theoretical and social scientific context so that the reader can better understand how much of female offending behavior is linked to prior victimization and how much is rational choice.
The law tends to criminalize individuals who face victimization from domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, or are marginalized in some way through poverty or discrimination. As such, a criminalized woman may share many commonalities of women who are victimized, such as a feeling of powerlessness or learned helplessness, and involvement in oppressive relationships.