Jodie Michelle Lawston is Assistant Professor of Womens Studies at California State University San Marcos.
Drawing on archival, interview, and observational sources, the author describes, analyses, and evaluates a distinctive model of care provision by volunteer, upper-middle-class women that has since been overtaken by the professionalization of the voluntary sector. Rumgay illuminates the pathways of women into, and out of, serious crime; explores the dynamics of rehabilitative practice in the volatile setting of residential care; and also analyses the qualities of successful rehabilitative practice.
Subsequently, the author suggests rehabilitative success is more appropriately understood within a paradigm of natural desistance from crime, instead of the more common appeal to a medical model of treatment. Moreover, this style of rehabilitative practice is inextricable from the broader social outlook of a dedicated group of philanthropic women, whose critics derided them with epithets such as 'Lady Bountiful'.
Examining the types of offences committed by female offenders, Smart points to the fallacies inherent in a reliance on official statistics and shows the deficiencies of the popular argument that female emancipation has caused an increase in female crime rates. She deals with studies of prostitution and rape and considers the treatment of women – as offenders and victims – by the criminal law, the police and courts, and the penal system. Particular attention is given to the question of lenient treatment for female offenders with the conclusion that women and girls are, in some important instances, actually discriminated against in our legal and penal systems. The relationship between female criminality and mental illness is discussed and the author concludes by dealing with some of the problems inherent in developing a feminist criminology.