Crimline: Crime and Punishment of Women in Germany

by Friederike Faust

Why do women commit crime, and how should they be punished? This CrimLine reconstructs in excerpts how the social image of criminal women, corresponding criminological explanations as well as penal policies have changed in Germany.

Delinquency and norm violations by women have always been in particular need of explanation, as they diverge with conceptions of the female nature and role. Linked to the question of the causes and motives of female criminality is the question of the appropriate and effective punishment of women.

This CrimLine is intended to help understand how today’s women’s penal system is organized legally and politically. The CrimLine reveals the social morals and imaginaries about female crime that come to shape the contemporary treatment of incarcerated women. Spectacular criminal cases will be used to illustrate how women’s crimes are dealt with differently over the years and in accordance with changing social gender relations. These social debates also reflect the paradigm shifts in the criminological theorization of female delinquency. At the same time, criminology as an applied science influences national and international penal politics and legislation, and thus has sever impact on the everyday experiences of sentenced and imprisoned women.