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: 194501 Find in a Library
Title: Role and Sentencing of Women in Drug Trafficking Crime
Journal: Legal and Criminological Psychology  Volume:7  Issue:1  Dated:February 2002  Pages:101-114
Author(s): Rosalyn L. Harper; Gemma C. Harper; Janet E. Stockdale
Date Published: February 2002
Page Count: 14
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This study explored the role of women in drug trafficking crime and the influence of gender on the sentencing of this group of offenders.
Abstract: Prison statistics indicate that there is an over-representation of women compared to men for the crime of drug trafficking. Women tend to occupy the high-risk, low-status role of courier in the organization of the drug trafficking trade. A secondary analysis was carried out of the demographic and sentencing characteristics of 1,715 drug traffickers caught smuggling drugs through Heathrow Airport between July 1991 and September 1997. Data indicated that women were adopting a more dangerous role by being significantly more likely to take the higher-risk, lower-status role of courier. Female couriers were physically carrying more drugs in terms of weight and value than male couriers. Women were statistically more likely to carry Class A than Class B drugs and hence subject to greater penalty. In terms of equity in sentencing, women were not sentenced more harshly than men in drug trafficking cases. Where gender did influence sentence length was in the sentencing of Class A traffickers before 1994 when men received the longer mean sentence length. Other variables included plea, role, and estimated street value of the drugs. Nationality, role, gender, and children were not statistically significant predictors of sentence length. Variables that were important in predicting sentence length for Class B traffickers included age, weight, and plea. Gender, nationality, children, and role were not statistically significant predictors of sentence length. Qualitative methods are needed to further deconstruct the stereotypes and identify the reality of women’s recruitment, role, participation, and motivation in the drug trafficking trade. 7 tables, 38 references
Main Term(s): Drug law offenses; Female offenders; Sentencing/Sanctions
Index Term(s): Crime seriousness measures; Customs violations; Drug Related Crime; Drug smuggling; Male female offender comparisons; Smuggling/Trafficking
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.