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National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women (NRCJIW) (Washington, DC)

Women involved in the criminal justice system have challenging and complex needs that are different than men’s. Generally, correctional approaches for women have largely been informed by policies and practices with men, in absence of consideration of gender differences. However, there is a growing body of research and best practices that inform practitioners on how they can better meet the risk factors and needs of women in the system, lower rates of recidivism and improve public safety.

The National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women (NRCJIW) has created this toolkit to provide practitioners with information, resources and tools to help them communication effectively with others regarding how we achieve better outcomes with women at all stages of the criminal justice system.

The following resources from this toolkit can be accessed at this website:

Infographic– The facts and intricacies of the needs of justice involved women may seem complex. To provide better understanding in an attractive and easy to follow format, the NRCJIW has created this infographic. It serves as a primer on some of the key issues that impact women in the justice system. The infographic can be shared in presentations and on social media, helping to engage and educate external audiences.

Slide Presentation – NRCJIW has developed a Microsoft PowerPoint-based slide presentation on meeting the complex needs of women in the justice system that includes recommended approaches for working with women in a way that is different from working with men. The purpose of this presentation is to increase understanding among key audiences, such as the judiciary, corrections officials, and probation and parole professionals on issues pertinent to justice involved women. It is designed to be easily customized for specific audiences, allowing for the removal or addition of slides as needed.

Quick Tips – This set of tips is designed to help professionals reflect on and improve how they and their agencies respond to justice involved women. This document offers considerations for changing policies and practices to better integrate gender responsive approaches for women, with the ultimate goal of improving public safety outcomes.

Resource List – This list contains the “must reads” or most seminal resources on justice involved women. For additional resources, please visit NRCJIW’s resource page.

Video – NRCJIW also developed a short video to provide professionals with an easy to follow narrative portraying the specific needs of women in the justice system. This video is ideal for sharing on social media and as part of in-person presentations to outside groups.

Communications Toolkit Cover

"The Guide is designed to assist corrections professionals in revising discipline and sanctions policies and practices to more effectively manage women inmates, and create safer facilities for staff and inmates. It builds on a growing body of research and practice that supports an approach to discipline and sanctions tailored to women inmates. It also provides a synopsis of American Correctional Association (ACA) standards, and case law relevant to discipline and sanctions policies and practices for women … The Guide is a new and innovative approach for applying what is known about women (i.e., research and practitioner experience) to discipline and sanctions policies and practices. Its primary purpose is to inform corrections work in this area, and contribute to the growing body of knowledge and research to achieve more successful outcomes with women offenders." This guide is comprised of the following sections: overview; process; research implications; integrating research and practice with ACA standards; legal issues; and research findings.

Gender Responsive Discipline and Sanctions Policy Guide for Women’s Facilities cover

"As criminal justice practitioners, we need to understand that the issues facing women veterans in the justice system may be complex as a result of untreated trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse, and their unique military experiences. We must better prepare ourselves to respond. This document highlights the unique experiences and needs of women veterans who become justice-involved and offers a gender and trauma informed approach that criminal justice practitioners can use to more effectively manage this population" (p. 2). Sections of this publication include: introduction; understanding the challenges facing justice-involved women veterans; symptoms of military sexual trauma (MST); identifying and addressing the needs of these offenders; veteran screening questions to add to established criminal justice intake and assessment processes; barriers to getting women veterans the services they need; and expectations for the future related to promising national initiatives focused on justice-involved veterans.

Responding to the Needs of Women Veterans Involved in the Criminal Justice System Cover

“This document reviews ten truths about justice involved women—gleaned from the research over the last few decades —that must be recognized if we are to successfully manage this population, achieve greater reductions in recidivism, and improve public safety outcomes. It is our hope that by understanding these truths, criminal justice policymakers and practitioners will be more aware of gender differences and take steps to enhance their approaches to managing justice involved women” (p. iii). Some of these truths are: women are a fast-growing criminal justice population, yet they pose a lower public safety risk than men; traditional criminal justice policies and practices have largely been developed through the lens of managing men, not women; gender responsive assessment tools can enhance case management efforts with justice involved women; women are more likely to respond favorably when criminal justice staff adhere to evidence-based, gender responsive principles; and the costs of overly involving women in the criminal justice system are high.

Ten Truths that Matter When Working with Justice Involved Women Cover

"In the wake of significant research on trauma and the interventions required to address it, a number of correctional agencies have made efforts to increase the use of trauma-based services and curricula … This document provides a brief overview of trauma and its effects on women offenders, and specifically defines trauma-informed practices for women’s correctional facilities.3 It also provides key actions that facility administrators, managers, and staff can take to better align their operational practices with the research on trauma and to create a more trauma-informed facility culture" (p. 1-2). This publication contains these sections: introduction; what we know about the experience of trauma among women inmates; trauma's impact on brain and body; what the prevalence of trauma among females means for women's correctional institutions; what the benefits of creating a more trauma-informed institutional culture are; creating a trauma-informed culture in women's correctional facilities; opportunities for implementing trauma-informed practices in correctional settings; eight action steps for building a trauma-informed facility culture; and conclusion.

Using Trauma-Informed Practices to Enhance Safety and Security in Women’s Correctional Facilities cover

"This practice brief was designed to summarize the available research on female perpetrated violence. Information in this area is still quite limited. However, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that females who engage in violence are not a homogenous group and that there are some important differences in the context and expression of violent behavior across gender. We will examine a host of personal, contextual, cultural, and victimization-related factors among females charged with intimate partner violence and other violent crimes. This information will then be translated into recommendations for assessment and intervention" (p. 1). Several parts make up this document. Part 1—A Review of the Research: overview; prevalence rates; risk factors; and types of perpetrators and motives surround use of violence. Part II—Implications for Assessment: standardized screening and assessment tools; and conducting a comprehensive interview. Part III—Implications for Intervention Approaches and Strategies: general considerations for treatment; and treatment programs to address violence. Part IV—Conclusion.

Working With Women Who Perpetrate Violence: A Practice Guide Cover
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