Special Populations: Gender, Race, and Incarcerated Individuals

  • Lia AhonenEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Criminology book series (BRIEFSCRIMINOL)


This chapter discusses gender and racial differences in violent behavior. Research in criminology, psychology, and other behavioral sciences has long established a distinctive gender gap in which females are far less likely to be involved in violent behavior than males in the general population, a difference that persists in juveniles and adults. In addition, minority groups, in this case African Americans (especially males) are over represented in violence statistics. Previous research suggests that the gender gap seems to narrow when mental illness is taken into account. There are indications that this can be explained by an increase in female violence rather than a decrease in male violence, which may be caused by the expression of more severe psychiatric symptoms in females by the time the violence occurs. While there is some limited evidence suggesting that racial differences exist in the rates of violence committed by those suffering from mental illness, the results are inconsistent. British studies showing differences between different racialized groups, for example, suggest that poverty and difficult life circumstances play a far more important role than race and ethnicity. Finally, both incarcerated males and females display a much higher prevalence of mental illness than in the general population. The chapter discusses the criminalization of mental illness.


Violence Mental illness Gender Race Incarcerated individuals Criminalization Deinstitutionalization 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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