Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Criminal Justice Sciences
Women, people of color, and people with mental illness are fast growing populations in the criminal justice system. However, research tends to overlook the women of color with mental illness who exist at the intersection of these statuses. The current thesis attempts to apply an intersectional framework to the analysis of the narratives of these multifaceted women to explore the ways that their varying positions in society interact to shape unique life experiences. I analyzed a secondary data set of semi-structured life-course interviews with 65 women on a Seriously Mentally Ill (SMI) probation caseload. Implementing a grounded-inspired approach, the interviews were coded and compared in order to uncover emergent intersectional themes. While analyses revealed racial disparities in lived experiences, narratives demonstrated that the women of color did not attribute disadvantageous life circumstances to their race. I hypothesize that, while these women face stigmatization on various fronts, the marginalization they endure based on their interacting statuses is executed in a convoluted and surreptitious manner which might cause them to attribute their subjugation to only part of their multifaceted identity. The intricacies of intersectionality can be imperceptible to researchers and their subjects. However, with rising numbers of criminally involved women who exist within multiple positions of oppression, criminologists must expand upon these intricacies and foster inclusive research that is cognizant of the diverse experiences of those who fall within intersections of marginalization while also examining larger patterns of oppression and privilege in the criminal justice system that maintain that marginalization.
McDermott, Cailin Rosemary, "An Intersectional Examination of Criminally Involved Women of Color with Mental Illness" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 1155.