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Female offenders

This fact sheet is a great reference if you are looking for a concise resource showing the increase in the number of women and girls being incarcerated and a comparison between the rates of imprisoned women and men and between girls and boys. 

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.


Female Offenders in the Community Cover

Issues regarding health conditions and health education of incarcerated minority women are discussed in this paper. Topics covered include: incarcerated women's health care—infectious and chronic diseases, disease-specific care, mental health, and programs specifically for incarcerated females; health education programs in prison—education strategies from intake to reentry, and collaborative prison-community partnerships; return to the community-- post release access to care; and a conclusion explaining the need for "[I]mplementation of easy health care access, health education programs and treatment interventions during and post incarceration allow incarcerated women an opportunity to maintain medical treatment practices and have positive health outcomes" (p. 6).

Forgotten Women: Incarceration and Health Concerns of Minority Women cover

Gender-specific somatic interventions can be transformative for system-involved girls who have experienced trauma. This report defines the core components of somatic interventions for traumatized girls, presents data documenting positive effects, and makes specific policy and practice recommendations to increase access for system-involved girls.

Juvenile justice systems reform is occurring across the country as a result of a growing understanding of developmental and neurological differences between youth and adults, the high cost of incarceration, and the consistent failure of a punitive juvenile justice model. However, even as systems are initiating reforms and changing their approach, they are routinely failing to modify those reforms for girls or even to collect data on how girls, specifically, are affected by the problems they are seeking to remedy. As a result, the particular impact on girls of failures in the juvenile justice system is not understood and few juvenile reforms are tailored to girls’ needs and pathways into the system—meaning girls and young women are unlikely to fully benefit from system reforms. Many of the problems discussed in this report are not unique to girls—and many of the suggested paths forward can benefit both boys and girls. However, because girls are frequently left out of reform discussions, an intentional focus on girls is needed to ensure that they fully benefit from system reforms … If this intentional gender focus does not coexist with current large-scale system reforms, an important opportunity for gender justice and equity and developmental system reforms will be missed (p. 3). Sections comprising this report are: A Quick Look at History--Why Systems Over-Intervene and Often Fail to Help Girls; Mapping Girls’ Justice System Paths: How Abused and Traumatized Girls Enter and Are Pushed through the Justice System; Why Focus on Girls? The Long Overdue Need to Address Deeply Rooted Trauma and Inequity-- A. Traumatic and Unhealthy Social Contexts Result in Behaviors that Drive Girls into the Juvenile Justice System, and B. The Equity Argument: Structural Inequality Sweeps Girls into Justice Systems that Fail to Support Them; Using a Developmental Approach to Meet Girls’ Needs and Reduce Justice System Involvement System Reform Recommendations--A. Why a Developmental Approach Works for Girls, and B. System Reform Recommendations; and Conclusion.

The accompanying info-graphic is an excellent illustration of: the social context and conflict and abuse at home; understandable behavior linked to trauma and social context; the current system which criminalizes girls' understandable behavior; and a better way which utilizes a developmental approach.

Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reform for Girls Cover

This two-hour training session is for correctional managers wanting to implement risk and needs assessments for adult female offenders. Participants will: become familiar with gender-responsive assessments and approaches; and receive information regarding the adoption of the Women’s Risk and Needs Assessment instrument. Topics discussed include: evidence-based practice; risk/needs assessment; gender-neutral risk assessment; women offenders; gender-responsive concepts; risk assessment validation; developing a gender-responsive risk assessment; seamless classification; and implementation considerations.

Gender Responsive Classification Instruments for Women Offenders: What Do They Look Like and How Will They Improve Practice?  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

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 the five domains that will be assessed using the GRPPA Instrument. The GRPPA Scoring Instrument provides the assessment domains and related areas to be assessed. This Instrument is the document where scores are recorded for each domain, with questions within each domain that can help guide the scoring decisions. It is also used to record what information was gathered or reviewed and to note areas where observations were made pertaining to each domain. The GRPPA requires a collective effort from a team of corrections professionals to work together in determining how gender-responsive a facility or program currently is. It is also intended as the first step in a more substantial process to understand the current facility, program policies, and practices so that reforms and/or enhancements can be planned. Improving outcomes for justice-involved women is the primary purpose of this work. Templates for action plans are provided to help agencies move toward improving or changing current practices toward those that are more gender-responsive.

Gender-Responsive Policy & Practice (GRPPA) Cover

"Correctional policy and procedure drives decisions in the management and rehabilitation of offender populations. The continuously emerging research on female offenders highlights differences from their male counterparts, particularly in the areas of health, mental health, substance abuse and risk. Yet correctional policies rarely reflect those differences and where adaptations are made it is often not in policy or directive, contributing to tremendous inconsistency in the management of women offenders. One of the most common requests received from the women offender initiative at the National Institute of Corrections is assistance in revising policy that is consistent with the department mission but reflects the differences between men and women. This bulletin, based on survey data and focus groups with women, is an initial step to determine the existence of gender-informed policy within correctional agencies. The findings of this bulletin provide an overview of the current state of gender-responsive policies for women and define a focus for future research, training and technical assistance in the effort to create a more effective, and efficient correctional approach for women offenders" (p. 1). Sections of this bulletin include: introduction to the issue of gender-informed correctional policy; what gender-responsive means; methodology; limitations of the study; key findings—while the majority of correctional policies are still gender neutral, 73% of responding jurisdictions have developed some gender-responsive polices for their female offenders involving health care, programming, allowable properties, searches, and restraints; challenges to gender-responsive policy development; recommendations for gender-responsive policy development from the survey respondents; recommendations for becoming more gender-responsive from focus group participants; discussion regarding study results; and conclusion. "Research suggests that justice-involved women have different pathways to crime when compared to men, which result in unique needs. The criminal justice system can address those unique or more frequently occurring needs through further development of gender-responsive policies" (p. 6).

Gender-Responsive Policy Development in Corrections: What We Know and Roadmaps for Change Cover

“The Gender-Responsive Program Assessment tool is an instrument by which program administrators, program evaluators, agency monitors and staff can evaluate the gender responsiveness of programs for women and girls and obtain feedback that can be used to improve the quality of a program’s services” (p. 1). This tool allows one to evaluate these program elements: theoretical foundation and mission statement; site and facility; administration and staffing; program environment and culture; treatment planning; program development; and program assessment.

Gender-Responsive Program Assessment Tool Cover


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