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Female offenders

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 -- addressing the realities of women's lives is the key to improved outcomes.

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Anyone working with female offenders should read this systematic review of 13 studies from 1980 to 2014. It provides a very good look at effective HIV prevention interventions for justice-involved women. "As compared with interventions without an explicit theoretical orientation, interventions using a social cognitive theory or motivational interviewing orientation were more efficacious. Interventions delivered fully or partially in the community setting were also more efficacious than those delivered only within a correctional facility. We conclude that extant behavioral interventions do not adequately consider contextual and social factors that influence women’s sexual behavior, but rather focus on individual deficits in knowledge and skills. Findings underscore the need for continued development of theoretically based HIV prevention interventions that follow women with criminal justice involvement from correctional settings to the community, explicitly acknowledging the role of social and contextual determinants of HIV risk" (p. 253).

A Systematic Review of HIV Prevention Interventions Targeting Women with Criminal Justice Involvement Cover

Criminal career patterns, social context and features, psychological factors, potential matches in prior pathways research, sub-types, and treatment goals are provided for the following types of women's pathways to crime: "Type 1 - Quasi-Normal non-violent women with drug/alcohol issues"; "Type 2 - Lifelong Victims, many of whom have abusive partners, drug problems and depression"; "Type 3 - Socialized Subcultural Pathways, poor and marginalized but with low victimization and few mental health problems"; "Type 4 - Aggressive Antisocial, high risk/high need and victimized, mental health issues"; [and] women offenders not classified.

Women’s Pathways to Serious and Habitual Crime Cover

"The current study focuses attention on a previously understudied topic – transportation deprivation in women offenders. This is a timely and important endeavor given the scale of mass incarceration, number of women on probation and parole, and the numerous barriers women with a criminal record face" (p. ii). Chapters cover: introduction—problem statement and study significance; review of the literature—women offenders' pathways to crime, risk assessment tools for women offenders, agency and structure, and study purpose, goals, and objectives; research methodology; results for quantitative analysis about the impact of transportation access on recidivism outcomes; results for qualitative analysis—descriptive statistics, types, intensity, and comparative importance of transportation problems, resources and strategies used to increase transportation access, and relationship between transportation access and recidivism; and discussion and conclusion. Access to transportation is greatly lacking for women under community supervision. Eighty-three percent of women possessing high levels of access to transportation were not rearrested.

Access to Transportation and Outcomes for Women on Probation and Parole cover

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.
Achieving Accurate Pictures of Risk and Identifying Gender Responsive Needs: Two New Assessments for Women Offenders Cover

It is critical that people learn about the intersection of trauma, mental health challenges, and substance use and how they will impact women and girls and their families and communities and overall well-being. Representatives from more than three dozen federal agencies have gotten together to focus on this issue and to develop collective strategies to address its impact. This webinar held May 29, 2014 aimed to address: "the historical context of the intersection of mental health substance abuse and trauma; review current research of the problems of trauma and adverse experiences, and the impacts of that on women and girls; highlight two evidence-based practices of seeking safety in the trauma resolution center; and the core components of a trauma-informed approach when focusing on these intersections". The presentations given during this webinar are: "SAMHSA's Women and Violence Study Trauma Services in Public Mental Health [WCDVS]" by Susan Salasin; "Adverse Childhood Experiences: Impacts on Health & Wellbeing across the Life Course" by Melissa Merrick; "Seeking Safety: An Evidence-Based Model for Trauma and/or Addiction" by Lisa M. Najavits; and "If It Works in Miami…a Model Program for Serving Traumatized Human Beings" by Teresa Descilo.

Addressing the Intersection of Trauma, Mental Health Challenges, and Substance Use Cover

In March, The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition released a report, A Growing Population: The Surge of Women into Texas’ Criminal Justice System, which examines the growing number of women entering Texas’ criminal justice system and offers recommendations for safely reducing this population and helping women thrive in the community.

This report, the second in our two-part series, takes a closer look at the issues facing women who are currently incarcerated. The centerpiece of this report is a survey of women we conducted to learn more about their experiences prior to and during incarceration. As the survey results reveal, it is vitally important for agency staff, corrections system practitioners, and policy-makers to acknowledge and address women’s unique needs, to implement policies and practices that treat these women with dignity, to ensure they remain in their children’s lives, and to prepare them for a successful return to their families and our communities.

You can request the first part of the series at:  https://www.texascjc.org/growing-population-surge-women-texas%E2%80%99-criminal-justice-system

 

These standards were developed to "articulate a set of principles to guide agencies and jurisdictions in the development of local policy and practice. These best practices are relevant across a variety of settings including criminal justice, juvenile justice, psychiatric and forensic hospitals, law enforcement transport, and others. This document refers and applies to both women (age 18 years and older) and girls (younger than age 18) who are pregnant, laboring and delivering, or in the post-partum period" (p. 1). Sections contained in this publication include: background; definitions; context and need; key principles; recommendations for operational practices; rationale—legal considerations, gender responsiveness, trauma-informed policy and practice, and human rights; and conclusion. Appendixes cover: supporting documents; and "The Legal Lens".

Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women Under Correctional Custody Cover

For girls, as with boys, the failure to receive a high school diploma often places individuals on a pathway to low-wage work, unemployment, and incarceration. The imposition of harsh disciplinary policies in public schools is a well-known risk factor for stunted educational opportunities for Black and Latino boys. Such punishments also negatively affect their female counterparts, as do other conditions in zero-tolerance schools. Yet, the existing research, data, and public policy debates often fail to address the degree to which girls face risks that are both similar to and different from those faced by boys. This silence about at-risk girls is multidimensional and cross-institutional. The risks that Black and other girls of color confront rarely receive the full attention of researchers, advocates, policy makers, and funders. As a result, many educators, activists, and community members remain underinformed about the consequences of punitive school policies on girls as well as the distinctly gendered dynamics of zero-tolerance environments that limit their educational achievements … The research reflected in this report was designed to elevate the voices of Black girls and other girls of color affected by punitive policies so as to deepen our understanding of the ways they experience inhospitable educational environments and to produce recommendations designed to eliminate those inequities (p. 10-11).

Sections of this report following an executive summary include: the racialized and gendered contours of the crisis; the hidden toll of race on Black girls—what the data suggest—the substantial risk factors of race and ethnicity, racialized risk of punishment, racial disparity, and disproportionate discipline rates, expulsion rates, and suspension rates; what girls know—nine themes from focus group and stakeholder interviews; what can be done--recommendations for addressing the needs of girls of color; and conclusion. This website provides access to the full report, the executive summary, and a "Black Girls Matter: Social Media Guide, which provides images, tweets, and key messages for you to use in promoting the basic point that Black Girls Matter.

This brief describes the principles of gender-responsive programs, summarizes the literature, and presents highlights of MDRC’s implementation study of PACE Center for Girls. The PACE evaluation offers an important opportunity to describe how gender-responsive principles are put into operation in a real-world setting — across 14 locations in Florida — and to investigate the effects on girls’ lives (p. 12).

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