The Defendants

When looking at female defendants in homicide cases, they make up a minority percentage-wise as the majority of defendants are men. Crimes committed by men make up 71.9% of the cases reported in the Chicago Homicide database and 1.9% are unknown. That has women making up 8.3% of homicide cases from 1900 to 1930. Another interest statistic is that 66.8% of victims of female defendants are men compared to only 33.2% of the known victims being female.

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When starting this project, I knew that female defendants would have some difference compared to their male counterparts. However, I wasn’t exactly sure what those differences would be. While I will go more in depth on this for the analysis to compare female victims and defendants, one interesting part of the data I found was that female defendants were more often charged with intentional manslaughter than men were when their victims were women. Manslaughter as a whole made up a smaller part of the data for female victims at 28.8% compared to female defendants at 40.3.

One way to look at this deficit between manslaughter charges versus murder charges is the gender bias we still see today. It isn’t uncommon to see a woman underestimated in her ability to do something successfully, and it isn’t entirely farfetched to apply that logic in this scenario. When looking at female defendants, the circumstances of the homicides revolve much more around those the woman personally knows. That could play an important part in why these homicides occur.

When looking at the information regarding relationships between the female defendant and her victim(s), it is evident that there is a strong correlation between established relationships and the homicide in question. Grouping unknown relationships with complete strangers, closer relationships make up 79.6% of homicides caused by women.

This is also evident when looking at circumstances around these deaths. The largest category when looking at deaths caused by women is domestic violence at 21.3% and followed closely by illegal abortions at 20.5%. The illegal abortion category simply is for women charged with the death of a fetus for said. As that fetus is technically the child of the woman having the illegal procedure, it makes sense that the stat for familial murder is over twice as much for female defendants as it is for female victims.

In conclusion, female defendants are most likely to kill someone they have a close relationship with in terms of legal status or blood relation. They are also more likely to have male victims and it be considered manslaughter of some form or intentional homicide. When looking at the circumstances surrounding the deaths caused by female defendants, it is significantly more likely that domestic violence or abortion will be involved than almost every other option given in the Chicago Homicide database.