Women Prisoners: Theory and Reality in Mexico

  • centro de investigaciones en antropologia, México
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PurposeThis chapter discusses the confinement conditions that women doing time for federal offenses in Mexico nowadays face. This discussion focuses on two conditions: the evolution of theories about feminine criminal behavior; and the effects that policies against drugs, prevailing in Latin America and other world regions, have on this population. Design/methodology/approachSome 149 out of 300 women doing time in an Island prison in Mexico were interviewed by the author, who tried to understand the conditions that women faced before committing the crime and once they were in prison. FindingsThe study shows that policies against drugs have caused severe damage and brought about few, if any, benefits. A cost-benefit approach and more rational policies are suggested. Originality/valueThe chapter will describe relevant punishment conditions, including involuntary or trickery transfer of women to the Island prison; difficulties to communicate with their families and ill-treatments, humiliation, and abuses from personnel and will hear several of their stories.

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... En otro estudio realizado en cárceles peruanas con mujeres holandesas "mulas" se pone de manifiesto la barrera del idioma, ya que no median entre ellas y sus familiares, además de restringir mucho las visitas, lo que favorece la privación (Sikkens & van San, 2015). En el estudio de las condiciones carcelarias de la prisión de Islas Marías, en México, las reclusas eran trasladadas a esta prisión involuntariamente, de modo que las alejaban así de su entorno; solo hablaban con sus familias por teléfono diez minutos cada quince días, recibían continuas vejaciones por parte del personal de prisión y tenían pésimas condiciones de higiene, alimentos y cuidados médicos (Azaola, 2014). ...
... También se exponen otros casos, como, por ejemplo, no disponer de ropa femenina, falta de apoyo en transiciones vitales como la menopausia u orientar los talleres y cursos de orientación laboral a trabajos con poca proyección en el mundo laboral, tales como trabajos de limpieza de la prisión o talleres de costura (Azaola, 2014;Barry et al., 2020;Chamberlen, 2017;Shantz & Frigon, 2009). ...
... De hecho, la victimización resulta un aspecto clave en el riesgo de reincidencia (Loinaz & Andrés-Pueyo, 2017). Además, las cárceles no están equipadas de forma adecuada para las mujeres, al no tener recursos básicos para ellas (como ropa femenina, no tener adecuada atención sanitaria) y tampoco ofrecer talleres y curso con proyección laboral futura (Azaola, 2014;Barry et al., 2020;Chamberlen, 2017;Shantz & Frigon, 2009). ...
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The objective of this work was to analyze the psychological effects associated with the stay in prison in women prisoners as well as their psychosocial profile. For this purpose, a literatura search was carried out in the following databases: Web of Science, Scopus, Psicodoc, PsycInfo, Pubmed and DOAJ. In the search a total of 1403 papers were located (1350 articles and 53 reviews), finally selecting 106 studies. There are important differences between men and women in terms of adjustment to prison, in addition to the fact that women prisoners have specific needs. In conclusion, more studies are needed to complement the information on the psychological effects of women in less developed countries.
Feminist scholars have criticized the mistreatment of female offenders by the criminal justice system. While current empirical research supports this proposition, a summary of existing literature is necessary to highlight patterns and themes and reiterate the importance of continuing to focus on the plight of female offenders. The current review synthesizes theoretical, historical, and contemporary feminist criminological and criminal justice literature on the gendered and disparate treatment of women offenders in criminal justice. Practical implications and policy relevant solutions are proposed as we look to the future of women and criminal justice.