Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Campus Only Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Barbara Walters

Second Advisor

Dr. Yvette Colon


The American legal system is highly complex and frequently the target of great criticism. Even though the disproportionate representation of men of color in prison is well-known, the literature reveals that the topic of how women fare in the criminal justice system is under-researched, especially in regard to women of color in the system. This research explores the intersection of gender and race within the legal system. Specifically, rates of incarceration for women in Michigan are examined and compared to national incarceration rates. Theories accounting for disparities are given, and gender specific issues in the criminal justice system are addressed. Recommendations for further research are presented as well.