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Women and Crime: Premenstrual Issues

NCJ Number
P W Easteal
Date Published
8 pages
Research on the relationship between premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and female criminality is summarized with emphasis on possible ways that PMS could be used as a defense strategy in the courts in both Australia and other countries.
No universally accepted medical consensus exists regarding the causes, symptoms, and treatment of PMS. Nevertheless, PMS is increasingly being accepted as a legitimate medical condition; the American Psychiatric Association and a major insurance company in the United States both define it as a medical condition. Several studies have linked PMS with suicide, violence, and aggression, although the methodologies and results have been challenged. Most attorneys who have written about PMS suggest that it be used in pretrial hearings to reduce charges and in mitigation of sentences rather than as an insanity defense, a defense of automatism, or a defense of diminished responsibility. Court cases using PMS have occurred in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. Feminists generally believe that PMS should be restricted to cases involving the small minority of women with incapacitating PMS. The main view presented in legal journals is that more research is needed on PMS. 39 references


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