• Question: Why do you think there is only a small amount of females in prisons compared to men , do you think this is because past perceptions of both genders in society?

    Asked by 726reaq24 to Sally on 14 Mar 2019.
    • Photo: Sally Tilt

      Sally Tilt answered on 14 Mar 2019:

      I’m really glad that you came back to this question after the live chat – there is a bit more time to answer in the ASK section.

      Firstly, the numbers in prison reflect the numbers of crimes committed – men carry out far more crimes than women – and this seems to be similar when we look at different countries around the world – it seems pretty universal. One theory for why this might be is that men, throughout evolutionary history have needed to be more competitive in order to be successful in reproducing – and so may have developed traits more likely to lead to aggression and violence. These qualities might have served some men well really well in evolutionary history – but they can be a bit of a pain when applied in a modern day context. It is of course possible to manage these reactions – as most men do all the time.

      In your question you also asked about perceptions – this is a really good point – and there have been some studies suggesting that women are less likely to receive a prison sentence than a man (for the same offence).

      Another difference between men and women being held in prison is in relation to their children. If a woman has a child in prison, the baby can stay with the woman in the prison, until they are 18 months old. There are special units set up for this purpose – it is important that the baby is in a positive environment – they haven’t done anything wrong!