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Book signing for Russell’s “Perceptions of Female Offenders”

Dr. Russell
Dr. Brenda Russell

The Penn State Berks Bookstore will hold a book signing event for "Perceptions of Female Offenders: How Stereotypes and Social Norms Affect Criminal Justice Responses," edited by Dr. Brenda Russell, associate professor of psychology and coordinator for applied psychology degree program at Penn State Berks. This event will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, at 2:30 p.m.

The publication explores how female offenders are often perceived as victims who commit crimes as a self-defense mechanism—or criminal deviants whose actions strayed from typical “womanly” behavior. These cultural norms for violence exist in our gendered society, and there has been scholarly debate about how male and female offenders are perceived, which leads to differential treatment in the criminal justice system.

"Our social norms dictate that women are not dangerous¬–that they do not commit crimes and the thought of a female offender conflicts with traditional gender roles, where women are nurturing and passive," comments Russell.

This interdisciplinary book provides an evidence-based approach of how female offenders are perceived in society, how this translates to differential treatment within the criminal justice system, and the implications of such differences. Frequently, perceptions of female offenders are at odds with research findings.

“We therefore need to question our own perceptions about females in society and in the criminal justice system, and explore whether equality in the criminal justice system would actually benefit, or harm, society and/or female offenders,” Russell explains.

Russell’s scholarly and teaching interests include psychology and law, perceptions of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, homicide defendants, and the social psychological and cognitive aspects of jury decision making. She is particularly interested in how gender and sexual orientation play a role in evaluating defendants in cases of domestic violence, rape, sexual coercion, bullying, and sexual harassment. 

Her research on domestic violence can be seen in her book titled “Battered Woman Syndrome as a Legal Defense: History, Effectiveness, and Implications.” Russell also serves as consultant and program evaluator for various federal and state educational, law enforcement, justice, and treatment programs.

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