The Criminalisation of Women in Joint Enterprise Cases: Exposing the Limits to ‘Serving’ Girls and Women Justice
This paper reports original evidence about the experiences of 109 girls and women criminalised in England and Wales under the controversial legal doctrine of joint enterprise (JE). Over three-quarters of the women were convicted of murder or manslaughter. Yet, in no cases was evidence presented that the girl or woman used a deadly weapon. In 90% of the cases, the defendants engaged in no violence at all, and in nearly half of the cases, they were not present at the scene of the violent incident.
In seeking to make sense of these findings, JE becomes a lens through which we can conceptualise gendered processes of criminalisation. Decisions to charge women that reflect strategic approaches to policing and prosecuting some forms of violence and harm, alongside prosecution and defence strategies used in the courtroom that reproduce patriarchy, class stigma and racism, will be explored. Simultaneously, the criminalising processes actively obscure and silence the wider context and personal histories of the lives of girls and women, which once surfaced, expose wider tensions in addressing all harms to deliver justice for women.
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