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Women Offenders

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    The National Institute of Corrections, in partnership with the Women's Prison Association, has developed The National Directory of Programs for Women with Criminal Justice Involvement. Learn more about the directory through the "More Information" sidebar in the left column of this page.

    The number of justice-involved women has skyrocketed -- at rates exceeding men. Their entry into the criminal justice system, offense patterns, and levels of risk often follow a different path than men and require more targeted approaches. Correctional administrators need to understand and address these differences to improve outcomes for women offenders.

    Assistance is available to local jurisdictions wishing to examine and improve their responses to this population. Agencies with sole or shared responsibility for managing women who come in contact with the criminal justice system can apply for limited, short-term technical assistance. Assistance may focus on women's pathways to criminal behavior and gender-responsive practices that improve outcomes in the community.

    Agencies can also request technical assistance for reviewing current practices and identifying areas that require the design of more gender-responsive decisionmaking processes, assessment tools, and program interventions that accomplish the jurisdiction's public policy goals.

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    Recommended Reading

    Date Title Type
    2014
    Document 028130
    Gender-Responsive Policy & Practice (GRPPA)
    National Institute of Corrections (NIC) (Washington, DC).
    The Gender-Responsive Policy & Practice Assessment (GRPPA) outlines the process of evaluating the gender-responsiveness of policies and programs for women and how to use those outcomes to drive enhancements to women’s programming. There are two main sections of the GRPPA. The GRPPA Description and Instructions section provides information on how to facilitate an assessment of current gender-responsive practices in community corrections programs and correctional facilities. It also outlines t... Read More
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    2013
    Document 027701
    Pregnancy- and Child- Related Legal and Policy Issues Concerning Justice-Involved Women
    By Raeder, Myrna. NIC Grant no. 11B7401; National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Do you need detailed information about how to manage inmate mothers? Then this publication is for you. It “provides an overview of pregnancy- and child-related legal questions concerning justice-involved women that can be raised in correctional settings … Understanding how family-based legal issues affect women offenders is important in designing programs to ensure the best outcomes for women and their children, not just in jail or prison settings but also in probation, parole, and community cor... Read More
    PDF
    68 pages
    2013
    Document 026990
    Health, Justice, Women: Behavioral Health and OB/GYN [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Data continues to show that women are entering the justice system at rates exceeding male offenders and bring with them extremely complex and multi-layered behavioral and physical health issues. While systems must make choices on how best to deploy limited staffing and programming resources, this broadcast series is an opportunity to explore methods of coordination between behavioral and physical health care. This broadcast is the 2nd offering in a two part series addressing health related issue... Read More
    VIDEO
    2 video DVDs (157 minutes) + 1 data DVD
    2012
    Document 026332
    Health, Justice, Women: Transforming Systems--Changing Lives [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Women and girls enter the criminal justice system with distinct and unique health care needs. Most are in their child bearing years, may have children, many are victims of abuse, have a mental health diagnosis, or typically exhibit more misconduct than male offenders. This complex mix of needs affects a system's ability to work effectively as it draws upon a higher percentage of resources to care for female offenders. During this national discussion held on August 15, 2012, participants will ... Read More
    VIDEO
    2 video DVDs (151 minutes)
    2009
    Document 025927
    Outcome Evaluation of the Women Offender Case Management Model in Connecticut Probation
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Orbis Partners, Inc. (Ottawa, Ontario).
    “The outcome evaluation [for the Women Offender Case Management Model (WOCMM) implemented in Connecticut probation] focuses on determining whether participation in the project reduces future involvement in the criminal justice system as measured by recidivism over a fixed length follow-up period. The outcome evaluation employs a comparison group to determine if participants have more positive outcomes than a group of women with similar characteristics who were not exposed to the model” (p. 1). R... Read More
    PDF
    17 p.
    2011
    Document 025082
    Women and Trauma: A Working Document
    Federal Partners Committee on Women and Trauma (Washington, DC).
    Individuals concerned with violence perpetrated against women and girls in our society need to read this report. A new way to address trauma in any setting, called trauma-informed care, is described, noting that it is “a way for different agencies and groups to come together around a common concern…The report provides an introduction to the key issues facing each participating agency, with statistics documenting the impact of violence against women and girls on their mission and information on h... Read More
    PDF
    79 pages
    2010
    Document 024662
    Employment and Female Offenders: An Update of the Empirical Research
    By Flower, Shawn M.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    “The purpose of this bulletin is to explore the literature and summarize the empirical evidence related to the impact of employment on the criminal behavior of women” (p. 2). Sections comprising this publication are: female offender demographics; barriers to employment—overview, the role of the family and the community, time-management skills, and the role of agency; correctional education and vocational programs—education programs, vocational/technical programs, overall effectiveness of these p... Read More
    PDF
    24 pages
    2008
    Document 022844
    Achieving Accurate Pictures of Risk and Identifying Gender Responsive Needs: Two New Assessments for Women Offenders
    By Van Voorhis, Patricia; Salisbury, Emily; Wright, Emily; Bauman, Ashley. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    The development of new risk/needs assessments specifically designed for female offenders is discussed. This report is comprised of these sections:
    • The case for women's needs;
    • Development of new assessments;
    • Construction validation research;
    • Full instruments;
    • Implementation considerations;
    • Obtaining the gender-responsive assessments;
    • And conclusion.
    ... Read More
    PDF
    26 p.
    2005
    Document 020418
    A Summary of Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders. The Gender-Responsive Strategies Project: Approach and Findings
    By Bloom, Barbara; Owen, Barbara; Covington, Stephanie. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Reviews information on gender-specific policies, programs, and services in corrections. Topics covered by this bulletin include: the Gender-Responsive Strategies Project -- approach and findings; defining gender responsiveness; national profile of women offenders; the foundation for the principles a new vision -- six guiding principles for a gender-responsive criminal justice system; general strategies for implementing guiding principles; gender-responsive policy elements; and conclusion -- add... Read More
    PDF
    12 p.
    2001
    Document 016721
    Correctional Health Care: Women Offenders [Lesson Plans and Participant's Manual]; Prison Health Care: Women Offenders
    National Institute of Corrections Academy (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections. Prisons Division (Washington, DC).
    The unique challenges of providing health care to women incarcerated in adult facilities are discussed during this 20-hour training program. Sections of this manual cover: objectives and overview; managing women offenders; litigation issues; health issues; mental health issues; creating infrastructure; substance abuse and women; co-occurring; infectious diseases; crisis intervention; and final action plans.... Read More
    PDF
    2 v. (v.1 - ca. 185 p., v.2 - ca. 175 p.)
    2004
    Document 018931
    Developing Gender-Specific Classification Systems for Women Offenders
    By Hardyman, Patricia L.; Van Voorhis, Patricia. National Institute of Corrections. Prisons Division (Washington, DC). George Washington University. Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections (Washington, DC); University of Cincinnati. Center for Criminal Justice Research (Cincinnati, OH); National Institute of Corrections. Prisons Division (Washington, DC).
    A report which highlights the results of two cooperative agreements from the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) addressing the critical need for gender-specific objective classification systems is presented.  Following an executive summary are six chapters: introduction; classification issues for women offenders--the literature; NIC Prisons Division--womens classification initiatives (e.g., National Assessment of Current Practices for Classifying Women Offenders and Working With Correc... Read More
    PDF
    81 p.
    2001
    Document 017072
    Female Offenders in the Community [Videoconference Held July 18, 2001]
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    This video examines the needs, strengths, weaknesses, and risks associated with female offenders. Topics discussed include:
    • The unique and complex issues surrounding female offenders;
    • Barriers that female offenders encounter in the community;
    • Techniques and skills for effecting positive change;
    • Outside resources to assist in supervision;
    • And the challenges and rewards of working with female offenders.... Read More

    1 DVD (162 min.)
    2008
    Document 023530
    Gendered Violence and Safety: A Contextual Approach to Improving Security in Women's Facilities
    By Owen, Barbara; Wells, James; Pollock, Joycelyn; Muscat, Bernadette; Torres, Stephanie. National Institute of Justice (Washington, DC).
    "In response to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA), this project . . . examined the context and correlates of both violence and safety in correctional facilities for women" (p. 1). This report is divided into three parts after an abstract and executive summary: Part I, entitled "Gendered Violence and Safety: Improving Security in Women's Facilities," contains the chapters introduction, literature review, gendered violence in women's prisons and jails, and policy implications and re... Read More
    PDF
    441 p.
    2006
    Document 020873
    Responding to Women Offenders: The Department of Women's Justice Services in Cook County, Illinois
    By Berman, Judy. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    The development and implementation of the Cook County Sheriff's Department of Women's Justice Services (DWJS) is discussed. This bulletin is comprised of these sections: introduction; background; the decisionmaking process; decision point mapping example -- custody/release; creating the DWJS; gender-responsive innovations; meeting the healthcare needs of women offenders in Cook County; and challenges and accomplishments.... Read More
    PDF
    8 p.
    2000
    Document 016419
    Sentencing Women Offenders: A Training Curriculum for Judges [Lesson Plans]
    By Cicero, June H.; DeCostanzo, Elaine T.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Association of Women Judges (Washington, DC); National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Intervention effectiveness can be improved by understanding how women respond to sanctions. This 6-hour course addressed sentencing practices in relation to female offenders through the following modules: why focus on women offenders?; the judicial response to the woman offender; who women offenders are; what works, what is in place, and what do programs in the represented jurisdictions offer?; sanctioning the woman offender; what do we have and what do we need?; and wrap-up session and evaluati... Read More
    ZIP
    92 p.
    2002
    Document 017272
    Services for Families of Prison Inmates
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). LIS, Inc. (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections Information Center (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections. Prisons Division (Washington, DC).
    Responses from 54 agencies that answered this survey are analyzed and reported. The following sections are contained in this report: introduction; project method; agency initiatives related to families of inmates; facility assignment and visitation assistance; services for inmates with children; services to pregnant inmates and mothers of infants and young children; provision of parenting and parent-child programs in men's and women's prisons; program evaluations; and conclusion. Involvement in ... Read More
    PDF
    15 p.
    2002
    Document 018602
    Staffing Analysis for Women's Prisons and Special Prison Populations
    By Harding, B.G.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). LIS, Inc. (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections Information Center (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections. Prisons Division (Washington, DC).
    Results from an examination of "staffing analysis processes and staffing outcomes in prisons or units housing three inmate populations" are presented (p. 1). Sections of this report include: project method; key findings; themes in staffing and staffing analysis; methods and outcomes; staffing for mentally ill populations; staffing for medical needs populations; staffing for women's facilities; and conclusion. The same formal staffing analysis process used for the male general population is utili... Read More
    PDF
    12 p.
    2005
    Document 020419
    Supervision of Women Defendants and Offenders in the Community
    By Sydney, Linda. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    The use of gender-responsive strategies with women involved in the community corrections system is explained. Sections comprising this report are: what community corrections is; what gender-responsiveness for women offenders in community corrections is; definition of gender-responsiveness for women in the criminal justice system; summary of gender-responsive research; characteristics of women offenders in the criminal justice system (e.g., types of offenses, substance abuse, health, children an... Read More
    PDF
    24 p.
    2005
    Document 020417
    The Gender-Responsive Strategies Project: Jail Applications
    By McCampbell, Susan W.. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    Current research about women offenders and strategies for evaluating current operating procedures related to women offenders are covered. Sections of this bulletin include: introduction; women in jail -- their numbers and characteristics; the Gender-Responsive Strategies project -- approach and findings; six gender-responsive guiding principles -- implications for jail administrators; jail classification and gender-responsive strategies for implementation in a jail setting; challenges and how t... Read More
    PDF
    27 p.
    2006
    Document 021814
    Women Offender Case Management Model
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Orbis Partners, Inc. (Ottawa, Ontario).
    The gender-responsive Women Offender Case Management Model (WOCMM) is described. This document covers: the history of the project; philosophy and core practices; process incorporating four core elements (e.g., engage and assess, enhance motivation, implement the case plan, and review progress); preparing for implementation; and evaluation.... Read More
    PDF
    66 p.

    Related Resources

    Date Title Type
    2009
    Document 025927
    Outcome Evaluation of the Women Offender Case Management Model in Connecticut Probation
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Orbis Partners, Inc. (Ottawa, Ontario).
    “The outcome evaluation [for the Women Offender Case Management Model (WOCMM) implemented in Connecticut probation] focuses on determining whether participation in the project reduces future involvement in the criminal justice system as measured by recidivism over a fixed length follow-up period. The outcome evaluation employs a comparison group to determine if participants have more positive outcomes than a group of women with similar characteristics who were not exposed to the model” (p. 1). R... Read More
    PDF
    17 p.
    2006
    Document 021814
    Women Offender Case Management Model
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Orbis Partners, Inc. (Ottawa, Ontario).
    The gender-responsive Women Offender Case Management Model (WOCMM) is described. This document covers: the history of the project; philosophy and core practices; process incorporating four core elements (e.g., engage and assess, enhance motivation, implement the case plan, and review progress); preparing for implementation; and evaluation.... Read More
    PDF
    66 p.
    2005
    Document 020419
    Supervision of Women Defendants and Offenders in the Community
    By Sydney, Linda. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    The use of gender-responsive strategies with women involved in the community corrections system is explained. Sections comprising this report are: what community corrections is; what gender-responsiveness for women offenders in community corrections is; definition of gender-responsiveness for women in the criminal justice system; summary of gender-responsive research; characteristics of women offenders in the criminal justice system (e.g., types of offenses, substance abuse, health, children an... Read More
    PDF
    24 p.
    2001
    Document 017072
    Female Offenders in the Community [Videoconference Held July 18, 2001]
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    This video examines the needs, strengths, weaknesses, and risks associated with female offenders. Topics discussed include:
    • The unique and complex issues surrounding female offenders;
    • Barriers that female offenders encounter in the community;
    • Techniques and skills for effecting positive change;
    • Outside resources to assist in supervision;
    • And the challenges and rewards of working with female offenders.... Read More

    1 DVD (162 min.)
    1995
    Document 012219
    Intermediate Sanctions for Women Offenders
    National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). Oregon Dept. of Corrections. Intermediate Sanctions for Women Offenders Policy Group (Salem, OR).
    The Intermediate Sanctions for Women Offenders Policy Group compiled and analyzed qualitative and quantitative information on women offenders, the criminal justice decision making process, and programming resources available to women offenders in Oregon. This document describes the project process and presents the Policy Group's findings, observations, and recommendations. Topics covered include: supervision, probation, parole, trend data, offender demographics, and staff training.... Read More
    PDF
    100 p.
    1992
    Document 010786
    Female Offenders in the Community: An Analysis of Innovative Strategies and Programs
    By Austin, James; Bloom, Barbara; Donahue, Trish. National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC). National Council on Crime and Delinquency (San Francisco, CA); National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
    This report describes various strategies and programs that appear to provide effective community supervision and/or treatment of female offenders. It describes the results of a national survey of public and private community programs that supervise female offenders. Additionally, the report discusses the pertinent issues, needs, and problems of this population. Along with describing various programs, the report assesses positive aspects of these programs from their objectives through follow-up a... Read More
    PDF
    82 p.

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    Available Training Opportunities

    • Available Online - Workforce Development and Women Offenders
      This e-course is intended for individuals working or volunteering in prisons, jails, community corrections, community and faith-based organizations, U.S. Department of Labor One-Stops, and other governmental organizations such as health and human services who are interested in workforce development issues specific to women offenders.
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