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Thomas Allen

Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Rural Sociology

First Advisor

Robert D. Mendelsohn


This study assessed the factors related to the repetition of crime by rural women offenders. The literature directed the study to the areas of economic problems, the prison experience, the parole situation and personal attributes. An interactionist perspective was taken to gain the greatest insight into the lives of the women studied. The perspective was utilized in designing a study that would allow the subjects to relate their experiences and what they meant to them. The subjects were sixteen women who had been incarcerated at least once before in South Dakota. The interview with open-ended questions was the method chosen, combining elements of field and laboratory interviews in a controlled setting at the women's prison. Uniform treatment of each subject and attention to detail enhanced the comparability of each interview. The findings indicated that financial problems do play a part in the continued criminal behavior of women as do child care responsibilities and limited job opportunities. The research also showed that certain factors were far more complex than had been assumed (i.e. running away). The study concludes that there are significant gender-related issues in the criminal behavior of women. Symbolic interaction was found to fit well with the experiences of the subjects.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Female offenders -- South Dakota
Women prisoners -- South Dakota
Recidivism -- South Dakota




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