The first part of the paper is dedicated to theoretical explanations of penal policy for women. The author presents criminological opinions regarding the assertion that women are being punished not as tough as men in criminal proceedings. Special attention is paid to certain criminal offences such as murder, domestic violence and drug offences, considering that for these crimes women are being punished similarly as men. Furthermore, the author points to an obvious increase of female prison population in recent decades and presents main reasons for this situation.
In the second part of the paper the author analyses data published by the Serbian Statistical Office as well as by the Serbian Administration for Penal Sanctions Execution. According to the data for the period 2012-2016, the share of convicted women in Serbia in last decade is stable (around 10%). As for the structure of imposed penal sanctions, the most often imposed is suspended sentence of imprisonment (10% more often in comparison to men) followed by the imprisonment (10% less imposed in comparison to men). Although these data suggest that criminal courts in Serbia have more lenient attitude toward women, it should be mentioned that the percentage of recidivism among convicted men is much higher in comparison to women (42% and 18% respectively). When it comes to the length of imprisonment, in most cases (44% for women, 37% for men) courts impose short sentences which do not exceed a period of six months. Moreover, the author analyzed difference in the imposition of imprisonment for certain crimes. It can be concluded that this penalty has been imposed on women in the same percentage as on men for criminal offences against life and limb and against economy. On the other hand, females have been treated more leniently for crimes against property and family life. In regard to drug offences, women go to prison less often than men, but the sanction of imprisonment is imposed more often in comparison to the average share of this penalty for all female crimes (27% in comparison to 20%). Finally, in regard to characteristics of women in prisons in Serbia, the author concludes that the majority is not older than 40 years, unlike the overall population of convicted women. Also, the percentage of women recidivists is higher among females in prisons in comparison to the whole population of convicted females and the fact that almost 40% of imprisoned women offenders are drug addicts represents a special problem.