Chesney-Lind, Meda 1947-

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CHESNEY-LIND, Meda 1947-


Born January 22, 1947, in Woodward, OK; married Ian Lind (a journalist), August 15, 1969. Education: Whitman College, B.A. (summa cum laude; sociology), 1969; University of Hawaii, M.A. (sociology), 1971, Ph.D. (sociology), 1977.


Office—Women's Studies Program, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822; fax: 808-956-9616. E-mail—[email protected].


Sociologist. Honolulu Community College, Honolulu, HI, instructor, 1973-85; University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, assistant to associate researcher, Youth Development and Research Center, 1979-92, Women's Studies Program, 1990—, associate professor, 1986-94, director, 1990-93, professor, 1994—. University of Illinois, Chicago, adjunct professor, Department of Criminal Justice; consultant.


American Society of Criminology (Women and Crime Division, executive counselor, 1988-90, chair, 1989-91; vice president elect, 1992-93; vice president, 1993-94), Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Western Society of Criminology (executive counselor, 1987-91; president, 1992), Center for Research on Women, Hawaii Sociological Association, Hawaii Criminal Justice Educators Association, Sociologists for Women in Society.


Grants from the State of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, and U.S. Department of Education; named one of the Ten Who Made a Difference, Honolulu Star Bulletin, 1987; Western Society of Criminology fellow, 1988; Paul Tappan Award, Western Society of Criminology, 1992; Michael J. Hindelang Award, American Society of Criminology, 1992; Regent's medal, University of Hawaii, 1994; Distinguished Scholar award, Division on Women and Crime, American Society of Criminology, 1994; Headliner award, Honolulu Professional Chapter, Women in Communications, 1995; American Society of Criminology fellow, 1996; Herbert Block Award, American Society of Criminology, 1996; Morrison-Gitchoff Award, Western Society of Criminology, 1997; Alumna of Merit, Whitman College, 1997; Cressey Award, National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1997; named honorary member, Golden Key National Honor Society, University Hawaii, 1999; Major Achievement Award, American Society of Criminology, 2000; Bruce Smith, Jr., Award, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, 2001, for outstanding contributions to criminal justice.


(With Randall G. Shelden) Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice, Brooks/Cole (Pacific Grove, CA), 1992, revised edition, West/Wadsworth (Belmont, CA), 1998, 3rd edition, Wadsworth/Thomson Learning (Belmont, CA), 2004.

The Female Offender: Girls, Women, and Crime, Sage Publications (Thousand Oaks, CA), 1997, 2nd edition, Sage Publications (Thousand Oaks, CA), 2004.

(Editor, with John M. Hagedorn) Female Gangs in America: Essays on Girls, Gangs, and Gender, Lake View Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.

(Editor, with Marc Mauer) Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, New Press (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor, with Lisa Pasko) Girls, Women, and Crime: Selected Readings, Sage Publications (Thousand Oaks, CA), 2004.

Contributor to Women, Crime, and the Criminal Justice System, by Lee H. Bowker, Lexington Books (Lexington MA), 1978; member of editorial boards, including Journal of Research on Crime and Delinquency, Theoretical Criminology, Criminal Justice, Criminology, Crime and Delinquency, Western Criminology Review, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Social Anarchism, and Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice. Women and Criminal Justice, SUNY Press, series editor; Women and Criminal Justice, deputy editor; author of reports generated by the Center for Youth Research, Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Meda Chesney-Lind is a sociologist whose research and writings focus on the people who pass through the criminal justice system, with particular emphasis on the treatment of girls and women. Marge Reitsma-Street reviewed her Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice in the Canadian Journal of Criminology, noting that this study, coauthored with Randall G. Shelden, moves "beyond a critique of the centrality of male standards and experiences in the existing work on delinquency.…The chapter on growing up female and policing girls to become female puts forward concepts and hypotheses that need to be considered when trying to understand girls in conflict with the law, and ethical responses to them." Reitsma-Street noted that girls bear more responsibility than boys and at an earlier age, but that "girls encounter less trust and more restrictions in mobility, adventures, and job opportunities outside the home, especially if poor and not white, and more violence than boys inside the home."

The authors note that these girls, many of whom are runaways or throwaways, are primarily detained for status offenses, and the 1989 data on arrests of females under eighteen nationwide shows that fewer than three percent were for violent offenses. The book also contains interviews with ten girls living in a temporary community. Reitsma-Street called the volume "required reading for those seeking to understand and to work with juvenile delinquents of both genders."

Chapter seven looks at the key Supreme Court cases that address juvenile rights, the lack of protection of juvenile offenders, who are disproportionately female, and the differences in the way males and females are processed. Ann Munster wrote in the Journal of Criminal Justice that "there is also a substantial section on changes in law enforcement practices, or the 'erosion of police chivalry,' which appears to be a bigger factor in changes in arrest statistics than any change in girls' behavior. This law enforcement trend is seen to be related to the women's movement."

In The Female Offender: Girls, Women, and Crime, Chesney-Lind's six chapters are titled "Girls' Troubles and Female Delinquency," "Girls, Gangs, and Violence: Rediscovering the Liberated Female Crook," "The Juvenile Justice System and Girls," "Trends in Women's Crime," "Drugs, Violence, and Women's Crime," and "Sentencing Women to Prison: Equality without Justice." Chesney-Lind reviews the literature and incorporates her own research. Rosemary C. Sarri pointed out in Social Service Review that "except for the national inmate surveys of women in prisons and jails conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Census Bureau, there are no large-scale quantitative studies on which generalizations can be developed about adult female crime and offending behavior in the United States." Consequently, most of the studies Chesney-Lind cites are of urban populations and include neither a representative sample of U.S. cities, nor samples from small towns and rural areas.

Corrections Today reviewer Curtis R. Blakely found the last chapter, "Sentencing Women to Prison," to be the most interesting. Chesney-Lind finds that for over two decades, the incarceration rates of women far outpaced those of men, while the proportion who were imprisoned for serious offenses declined, and that more than a third of women are imprisoned solely for drug possession. Blakely commented that Chesney-Lind "contends that the war on drugs is actually becoming a war on women. Likewise, the author finds evidence that while more women are being imprisoned for nonviolent offenses, they also are receiving probation more sparingly and, once probation is given, it's revoked more often."

Chesney-Lind and John M. Hagedorn coedited Female Gangs in America: Essays on Girls, Gangs, and Gender, a collection of articles by gang researchers that explore the lives of girl gang members in Chicano and black communities. In reviewing the volume in Contemporary Sociology, Steven R. Cureton called it "a solid initial attempt to provide scholars, academics, policy makers, students, or persons interested in female delinquency with a collection of diverse essays, linked by common themes."

With Marc Mauer, Chesney-Lind edited Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, a collection of sixteen essays by sociologists, criminologists, law professors, and policy analysts that offer the statistics and more. They note that approximately one fourth of the adult population of the United States have state or federal criminal records, and that the United States locks up more people per capita than any other country in the world. The majority are people of color, whose social and material lives, and those of their families and communities, are affected by their status, thus the "invisible punishment" of the title.

Many felons lose their right to vote, which significantly impacts local and federal elections. In the 2000 presidential election, 200,000 Floridians were unable to vote, and the number for the entire country exceeded four million. In some cases, even a misdemeanor conviction can prevent a person from obtaining licensing to become a security guard, barber, plumber, or teacher. A drug conviction results in lack of access to public housing, food stamps, and federal aid to education, which impacts the lives of that person's family. Children are deprived of parents and are essentially punished for their failings.

Counterpunch's Elaine Cassel commented on the opening essay, "Invisible Punishment: An Instrument of Social Exclusion," by Jeremy Travis, former director of the Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice. Cassel wrote that Travis "comes close to—but stops short of—suggesting that America's policies are part of an intentionally designed method of social engineering and control that guarantees a growing disenfranchised, marginalized underclass. Nevertheless, his and other thoughtful essays in the collection set out plenty of incriminating evidence indicating that the government (and those who run private prisons) may have ulterior motives for favoring incarceration, beyond pure retribution and revenge." Cassel concluded by saying that "Invisible Punishment exposes the hidden, repugnant retribution policies of the American criminal justice—or more accurately, injustice—system. It leaves the reader to judge whether the policies were well-intentioned (albeit misguided) efforts to deal with crime, or deliberate acts of a vengeful society that can't get enough of mean justice."



Affilia Journal of Women and Social Work, spring, 1993, Robin A. Robinson, review of Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice, pp. 112-113.

Canadian Journal of Criminology, July, 1994, Marge Reitsma-Street, review of Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice, pp. 383-388.

Choice, October, 1997, J. C. Watkins, Jr., review of The Female Offender: Girls, Women, and Crime, p. 378.

Contemporary Sociology, September, 2000, Steven R. Cureton, review of Female Gangs in America: Essays on Girls, Gangs, and Gender, pp. 749-751.

Corrections Today, December, 1998, Curtis R. Blakely, review of The Female Offender, p. 157.

Gender & Society, Aril, 1999, Joan Moore, review of The Female Offender, p. 270.

Journal of Adolescence, June, 1998, Danielle Hudson, review of The Female Offender, p. 341.

Journal of Criminal Justice, January-February, 1994, Ann Munster, review of Girls, Delinquency, and Juvenile Justice, pp. 75-78.

New York Law Journal, February 21, 2003, Annette Johnson, review of Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, p. 2.

Publishers Weekly, October 28, 2002, review of Invisible Punishment, p. 64.

Social Service Review, June, 1999, Rosemary C. Sarri, review of The Female Offender, p. 265.

Women & Criminal Justice, December 24, 2000, Joanne Belknap, review of Female Gangs in America, p. 121.


Counterpunch, (January 13, 2003), Elaine Cassel, review of Invisible Punishment.

Meda Chesney-Lind Home Page, (May 10, 2003).*