Objectives of the Study

Few studies have examined populations of incarcerated female sex offenders. Grier and Clark (1987) examined the descriptive, demographic and offence characteristics of a group of thirteen incarcerated female sex offenders in the Missouri Department of Corrections and Human Resources. O'Connor (1987) investigated the cases of nineteen women convicted of indecency and 62 women convicted of other sex offences in London and South East England. Brown et al. (1984) examined 20 females charged with rape in Massachusetts. There have been no studies examining a population of female sex offenders incarcerated or conditionally supervised in Canada. Although it is evident that this population may be unrepresentative due to the length of sentence imposed, the information obtained from this group can add to the sparse literature which examines characteristics of women who commit crimes of a sexual nature.

This study is a detailed analysis of nineteen female sex offenders incarcerated in Canada. This study had five objectives. The first was to provide case summaries for each female sex offender, in order to fully illustrate each of their histories. The current study will add to the sparse literature existing on female sex offenders and provide additional attention to a neglected group. Although the sample size is small, it is one of the largest described in the literature. This is the first study to examine female sex offenders in the Canadian correctional system, and will, therefore, provide valuable information about this population which can be used to guide correctional planning.

The second objective of the study is to gain insight into how female sex offenders develop and to determine whether their characteristics are consistent with previous research. Onset of the offender's sex offending behaviour and any abuse in the offender's background were noted. It is hypothesized that the majority of offenders have been victims of sexual abuse at some point in their lives. Offenders are also expected to be of low socio-economic status, poorly educated and have substance abuse problems (Mathews et al., 1989). It is also hypothesized that extraneous violence would not be used against victims (Marvasti, 1986; Johnson & Shrier, 1987).

The third objective is to examine offender profiles and determine whether they fit current typologies of female sex offenders. An attempt will be made to determine how well these women fit Mathews et al.'s (1989) typologies of female sex offenders (teacher/lover, male-coerced, or predisposed). Trends in offenders' characteristics and suggestions for modifications to the typologies presented will also be discussed. According to past findings (Mathews, 1987; Knopp & Lackey, 1987), it is believed that the majority of these offenders will be classified as male-coerced.

The fourth objective of the study is to investigate profiles of victims involved in the offences and to examine whether the characteristics of these victims match those described in the current literature. It is expected that most victims will be the offender's female children or female children known to the offender (Mathews et al., 1989; Faller, 1987).

The fifth objective of this study is to describe the type of treatment these women have received, are currently receiving, or are to receive in the future. Furthermore, an attempt will be made to evaluate whether treatment needs are being met for these offenders.