Research Papers

The Crimes Committed by Thai Elderly Female Prisoners

                                                                                                         Dr. SumonthipChitsawang,etal.


        Entering into aging society of Thailand does not only reflect in the large proportion of elderly people in comparison with other groups of population, but also bring about the overall rise in aging inmates behind bars. The research entitled ‘The Crimes Committed by Elderly Female Inmates’ was conducted by Dr.Sumonthip Chitsawanget al. funded by Chula Unisearch, Chulalongkorn University to explore the growth in aged inmates with the aims of investigating the causes of crimes and criminal behaviors of aging female prisoners, as well as of studying the appropriate measures of elderly female prisoner treatment before their release into the society. The research employs both qualitative and quantitative studies. Regarding quantitative method, the research questionnaire was adopted to gathering data from sampling group. According to qualitative method, the in-depth interviewing was selected to use with the sampling group. The sampling group included elderly female prisoners serving sentences in prisons and correctional institutions across the country. The sample group were 307 participants selected by the simple random sampling; and 15 participants selected by purposive sampling. The statistics used in the study were Percentage, Mean, and Standard Deviation.


        The results indicated that most elderly female prisoners were between 60-69 years old. The most senior was 88 years old. The Mean of the age of offence was 60.6 years old. They were rather low social status. Some were illiterate and some only received primary education level. Most were vendors and worked on hire, and having an income per capita of 10,000 bath per month. Half of them had an inadequate income for a living, and some were indebted before sentencing. due to the duty of family and parental care. In addition, some elderly inmates committed crimes relating to drugs, approximately 83.4 percentage. Whereas 22.1 percentage were those having not over 5 year sentence, and 24.4 percentage were life sentenced. The death penalty inmates were 5.1 percentage. Most received one sentence. Main cause of elderly prisoners’ offence was the financial pressure and economic hardship; which impacted to the behaviour consequently. In other words, surrounding conditions influenced them to commit crime and illegal offence.  Furthermore, their actions could be elucidated by their ignorance. It could be explained that they had the less intent of committing offenses, lack of preparations in the crime and using the skills to engage in crime to a minimum level. Most were first-time offenders, whose lack of continuity in the crime making comparing to those who committed crimes professionally.


      In the case of elderly female inmates who committed any Narcotic relating offenses, most are likely to have relatives or family members i.e. descendants who are drug traffickers. But they happen to assist in trading or looking after for their children’s illicit drugs, or taking responsibility for their children, or selling illicit drugs at homes within their own community.


     In the case of elderly female inmates who committed any offences against life and body, mostly it results from the fact that themselves or relatives being treated as the victims of husband or other people who harm them or their offspring. Until one day they cannot longer stand the situation and fight back, which results in imprisonment.


    In the case of elderly female inmates who committed any offenses against properties, most of the sample inmates have relationship with friends by working together or working the same place, associating with Rotating Savings, lotto gambling, being indebted and mutual guarantors, and buying products by paying in shared installment.


   The samples had difficulty in accessing justice. They had to struggle with the lack of knowledge; lack of money to defense the legal case; lack of attorney or legal adviser, therefore they did not know how to file a lawsuit if the police caught a wrong suspect. While being sentenced, some experienced health problems, including physical and mental health, lack of freedom, and problems within the prison environment. They fell that imprisonmentis hardship and do not want to come back again. Nevertheless, most attended religious activities while being imprisoned. Moreover,It is part of the strong point of Thai society that nearly all of them have relatives to visit and take care them.


    For suggestions, the study of the improvement of the quality of living in elderly inmates should incorporate the assistance upon elders with financial hardship. In addition, the use of religious principles in treatment for elderly inmates should be implemented. The establishment of “Halfway House” as a health care center for acquitted elderly inmates are deemed a great success. Lastly, the use of “Electronic Monitoring” should be considered as an alternative form to imprisonment. Also, special parole for these groups of inmate should be implemented.