How “Gendered” Are Gendered Pathways into Prison? a Latent Class Analysis of the Life Experiences of Male and Female Prisoners in The Netherlands

Katharina J. Joosen*, Hanneke Palmen, Candace Kruttschnitt, Catrien Bijleveld, Anja Dirkzwager, Paul Nieuwbeerta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Studies of pathways to offending have mainly focused on identifying either gendered trajectories in criminal careers, gendered risk factors for offending, or gendered pathways. Less common is research that explores to what extent classes or types of pathways to offending are actually gendered. In the current study, we examine latent classes of pathways to prison for both males and females in The Netherlands using two large samples and a broad array of background characteristics. Methods: Data on male pathways were derived from the Prison Project that includes data on 1904 male prisoners, while data on female pathways were derived from the VIP study that includes 397 women. The data cover the following domains: age of onset, offense type, family situation in childhood, substance use, homelessness, economic marginalization, mental health, romantic relationships, and parenthood. Results: For both the male and female prisoners, we found the following four comparable typologies: (a) multi-problem property offenders, (b) multi-problem violent offenders, (c) drug-connected offenders, and (d) low-risk-exposure offenders. The male low-risk category could be further divided into a low-risk group of property offenders and a low-risk group of violent offenders, resulting in a five-class solution. Conclusion: Subgroups characterized by background characteristics of male and female prisoners show remarkable similarity. Results indicate that prison re-entry programs should pay attention to risk exposure prior to incarceration. In so doing, interventions can be tailored to the risk domains shared across genders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-340
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Gendered pathways
  • Latent class analyses
  • Life experiences
  • Male and female prisoners
  • The Netherlands


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