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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 3, 2005

Heimer To Speak On Women's Crime and Punishment Oct. 8

In the last 30 years, significant differences between women's and men's crime have become smaller, and imprisonment rates have grown faster for women than for men. Karen Heimer (left), associate professor of sociology in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will speak about the social conditions leading to changes in crime and punishment for women when she presents "Down and Out: Women's Poverty, Crime and Imprisonment," on Saturday, Oct 8, at 10 a.m. in room 40 Schaeffer Hall. This lecture and discussion session is free and open to the public as part of the college's annual Saturday Scholars series.

Women's imprisonment rates are five times higher today than they were in 1970, while men's imprisonment increased fourfold in that same time period. Heimer will examine the social factors that may help us to understand patterns of women's crime and imprisonment in the United States, including aspects of women's poverty and economic hardship linked to crime and imprisonment, whether 1990s welfare reform affected women's crime, and the impact of the war on drugs on women's incarceration.

Questions about women's imprisonment gain added importance because many women prisoners were the primary caretakers of their children prior to their incarceration, Heimer said. She will present information from her studies of arrests in U.S. cities from 1970 through 2000 and from her research on imprisonment patterns across states over time.

Heimer joined the UI faculty in 1991. Her major areas of interest are criminology, juvenile delinquency, sociology of criminal punishment and gender. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on juvenile delinquency, criminology, gender and crime, criminal punishment and teaching sociology. She earned her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin.

Saturday Scholars was developed by Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to give members of the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by faculty members in the college. All presentations begin at 10 a.m. in room 40 Schaeffer Hall last about an hour, including time for questions. Refreshments are served.

Upcoming lectures in the Saturday Scholars series include:

Oct. 15: "Crossing the Road Safely: Children on Bicycles," Jodie Plumert, Department of Psychology

Oct. 29: "Through a Glass Darkly: Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe," Robert Mutel, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Additional information is available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 335-2611.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,