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Under Pressure: Women who Plead Guilty to Crimes They Have Not Committed

NCJ Number
Criminology & Criminal Justice Volume: 11 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2011 Pages: 77-90
Stephen Jones
Date Published
February 2011
14 pages
This article examines the gender-specific factors that makes it likely that women will plead guilty to crimes they did not commit.
There is now a great deal of research evidence which shows that people admit to crimes they have not committed, whether in the form of a plea bargain or a false confession. This article considers whether there are any gender-specific factors which make it particularly likely that women will make such admissions. Evidence is gathered from interviews with 50 sentenced adult women in an English prison as well as from the existing literature. It is found that women are indeed subject to a variety of pressures ranging from coercion and threats to family responsibilities which make them more compliant to the suggestions of police and prosecutors. Consideration is given to whether procedural changes in the criminal justice system (such as the introduction of the 'gender equality duty') are likely to improve the situation. It is concluded that, despite the risk of infantilizing women, changes specific to them have a greater chance of being implemented. (Published Abstract) References