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Incarcerated Women in Latin America: Characteristics and Risk Factors Associated with Criminal Behavior

Based on an analysis of the Survey of Convicted Prisoners from eight Latin American countries, this document helps to expand knowledge about incarcerated women. First, the results of the descriptive study highlight gender differences in criminal behavior and levels of social exclusion that predate imprisonment. Women commit less violent and less aggressive crimes, have shorter criminal histories, and are more likely to commit a crime while accompanied, emphasizing the importance of women’s dependency on male figures. Similarly, women live in situations of greater vulnerability than men prior to entering prison. A higher proportion of women are unemployed, and childcare responsibilities typically fall on women. Second, this report uses multivariate regression models to identify the risk factors associated with the criminal trajectory of imprisoned women, which indicate where intervention is required to prevent female delinquency. It emphasizes the fact that a girl’s socialization context (mainly her peer group) influences her later criminal behavior, as do certain sociodemographic characteristics, like having children. The document suggests that effective prevention interventions must take into account these factors, and at the same time, the particularities of incarcerated women must be considered when designing detention and reintegration policies.

Download the full report from the IDB's website