Michelle Richards was in the news again recently when she was recalled to prison after being granted parole this year on a life sentence for her part in the murder of her partner. After her partner had written her into his will, she convinced her 18-year-old lover to kill him by stabbing him while he lay in bed.
I post this case because it is an example of a woman encouraging or inspiring a man to commit serious violence to another person that she does not want to commit herself. We hear about it from time to time and I believe it is more common than people realise. In Ms Richards’ case, her role was identified and prosecuted, and she was punished as if for murder. However, there will be many cases where the woman’s role is not uncovered, or (more likely) the police choose not to lay charges against a woman. The result is that violent crime statistics further underestimate women’s violence.
Two other interesting aspects to the Richards case are noteworthy. Firstly, she was granted parole at the earliest opportunity, this privilege rarely being accorded to men. Subsequent events suggest that releasing her early was not justified, and one wonders to what extent gender stereotypes played a role in consideration of her release. Secondly, no information is given about why she was recalled to prison and no outcry has ensued about that. When men are recalled to prison, the public demand to know why and the media usually oblige.