skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 179906 Find in a Library
Title: Interviews With Women Convicted of Murder: Battered Women Syndrome Revisited
Journal: International Review of Victimology  Volume:6  Issue:2  Dated:1999  Pages:117-135
Author(s): Dennis J. Stevens
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 19
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Twenty-eight female inmates who had been convicted of murder were interviewed to develop a typology of delayed, reactive, and intentional murder responses by female murderers.
Abstract: The participants were interviewed in three prisons in New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina over a 3-year period. The participants had an average age of 29 years, that 21 were white, that 12 were married prior to incarceration, and that they were responsible for the deaths of 31 individuals. Twenty-one of the victims were family members, 7 were friends, 2 were strangers, and 1 was an innocent bystander killed during the commission of an armed robbery. Sixteen participants had never been charged with any previous criminal offense. Fourteen of the participants committed delayed murder, 7 committed reactive murders, and 7 committed intentional murder with malice aforethought. Both the delayed and reactive murderers experienced a continuum of imminent danger in their daily lives, suggesting that homicide was regarded as an event that used reasonable force as a last resort to end an abusive relationship with partners, children, parents, or others, and that occurred after a progression of interactions. One implication of this finding is that these women have a different understanding of their crime than do criminal justice officials and jury members. This finding suggested that the legal system itself may possess a gender disparity within its law. Recommendations emerging from this implication included the need to recognize battered woman syndrome as a legal defense for self-defense and to redefine relevant legal policies in keeping with the reality of today's at-risk communities. Findings also suggested the need for further research to examine the relationship between mandatory arrest and domestic assault calls. Notes and 48 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Women's correctional institutions
Index Term(s): Abused women; Battered woman syndrome; Criminal methods; Domestic assault arrest policies; Female murderers; Female offenders; Homicide causes; New York; North Carolina; Self defense; Sex discrimination; South Carolina; Victim-offender relationships
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.