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Female offenders

“This NCCD Focus highlights the vulnerabilities and consequences of gang involvement for girls, the service needs of girls in gangs and girls at risk of joining gangs, as well as the importance of addressing these service needs as a critical gang violence-prevention strategy. It also provides examples of how various programs are currently addressing the gender-specific service needs of girls involved in gangs” (p. 1). Sections of this publication include: introduction; risk factors and costs for girls; the view from service providers—the service needs of girls at risk of gang involvement (life skill classes, mentorship, and peer support), the service needs of girls in gangs (sexual abuse and gang desistance), the service needs of girls in juvenile halls (legal education services, recidivism prevention, and creative therapeutic services); examples of programming and services for girls—Girls & Gangs, Kevin Grant Consulting, Barrios Unidos, Fathers & Families of San Joaquin, and Operation Peacekeeper; and conclusion.

It's About Time: Prevention and Intervention Services for Gang-Affiliated Girls Cover

This is an excellent introduction to the issues surrounding girls in the juvenile justice system. "The majority of girls in the system are there for status and misdemeanor offenses and violations of probation. Both the behaviors that result in girls' arrests and the structural mechanisms that pull them into the justice system for those behaviors relate to child development. Girls' behaviors should be understood ecologically, as reactions to and in tension with the concentric circles of family, community, and society in girls' lives, and it is that ecological framing that provides more nuanced and developmentally informed responses" (p. 12). Sections of this article covers: the history of girls and juvenile justice; child development, juvenile justice policy, and girls; what It means for girls; trauma; domestic violence; commercial sexual exploitation; and using data in juvenile justice.

› Justice for Girls: Are We Making Progress? Cover

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 "Online Resources" sidebar in the right column of this page (second link from the top).

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 decision making processes, assessment tools, and program interventions that accomplish the jurisdiction's public policy goals.

With few exceptions, every policy, program and practice impacts women across the corrections continuum (pre-trial, jails, prisons and community corrections.) As the range of topics is so broad, you will find below a list of topics and additional resources. Find a topic, click, and there will be a number of items of interest.

A special thanks goes to Jefferson County Sheriff's Office for the photograph.


Click on the image below to watch a video about Patti Wachtendorf discuss her story about becoming the first female warden of Iowa's toughest prison.


"This webinar will focus on both the violence and aggression – including interpersonal and domestic violence – women have experienced as well as when they have perpetrated … Beyond Violence is the first manualized intervention for women that focuses on anger and utilizes a multi-level approach and a variety of evidence-based therapeutic strategies (i.e., psycho-education, role playing, mindfulness activities, cognitive-behavioral restructuring, and grounding skills for trauma triggers). This four-level model of violence prevention considers the complex interplay between individual, relationship, community, and societal factors. The program is designed to assist women in understanding trauma, the multiple aspects of anger, and emotional regulation." This webinar will: describe violent female offenders; define trauma-informed and gender-responsive services; describe the social-ecological model of violence; describe the theoretical foundation of Beyond Violence; discuss the evidence-base and research on Beyond Violence; and introduce the Beyond Violence curriculum.

› Justice-Involved Women: Understanding Trauma and Violence [Webinar] Cover

Meeting the needs of juvenile female offenders is discussed during this 1.5-hour training session. Topics covered include: introduction to the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) collaboration; current perspective -- research into juvenile female offender practice; current research -- a look at the work of OJJDPs Girls Study Group; NICs approach to address the issue; curriculum excerpt from NIC/OJJDPs Meeting the Needs of Juvenile Female Offenders, Section One: Defining the Context for Our Exploration of Female Responsive Services in the Juvenile Justice System; curriculum overview; and summary.

Juvenile Female Offenders: How Do You Meet Their Needs In Your Juvenile Justice Setting? [Participant's Manual] Cover

This practice guide will stress that efforts to safely reduce the inappropriate detention of low-risk girls must be rooted in JDAI’s [Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative’s eight] core strategies, but with an added intentional focus on applying those core strategies to girls’ unique needs and circumstances. These efforts require a strong and collaborative leadership team with the will and capacity to undertake meaningful reforms in the treatment of girls at the detention stage. The work must be rooted in careful analysis of detention management reports and individual case files to pinpoint policies or practices that may result in girls’ inappropriate or unnecessary detention, and they must lead to action as local leaders design, test and continually revise new strategies to meet girls’ needs (p. 2-3). Four chapters comprise this publication: understanding the challenge—the importance of focusing on girls in detention; getting started; using data to reduce inappropriate detention of girls; and developing a Girls Detention Reform Work Plan. Appendixes provide: Barnes County quantitative data analysis, Barnes County case file review, Girls Detention Facility Self-Assessment, and Making Detention Reform Work for Girls Research Question Worksheet.

Making Detention Reform Work for Girls Cover

This 38-hour course is designed to help juvenile justice agencies evaluate and respond to the needs of juvenile female offenders in their specific service delivery areas. It outlines a framework for translating expressed needs and profiles into appropriate programs and services. Eight sections comprise this manual:

  • Introduction;
  • Defining the context of juvenile female offender issues within the juvenile justice system;
  • Defining the context of juvenile female issues within your juvenile justice system; applying the female lens to your organization--addressing staffing issues;
  • How to find and evaluate resources for your service delivery area;
  • Identifying risk factors in your programming and service world;
  • How to address major risk factors in your service delivery area;
  • How to evaluate your program and services;
  • And supplemental material. This program is more about how to develop and program for girls in various juvenile justice settings.
Meeting the Needs of Female Juvenile Offenders [Lesson Plan and Participant's Manual] Meeting the Needs of Juvenile Female Offenders Cover

"Because fewer women are convicted of crimes and incarcerated compared to men, they can be overlooked for what may be ideal approaches to reduce crime and recidivism … The toolkit provides suggestions for innovative and focused interventions targeting the special risks and needs of women in the justice system. It provides an overview of risk and needs assessments, case management approaches, principles, strategies and programs that take into account the needs of women (gender-responsive). There are recommendations for creating community-based options for women and 10 key steps for working toward sustainable reductions in the number of women in county jails and the creation of gender-responsive community justice systems" (p. 1). Sections included in this report are: introduction; historical criminal justice and public health reforms bring new opportunities, funding crucial components; principles and six strategies for effective planning, policies, and practices; best practices and programs for eight topical areas; key steps to a gender-responsive community justice system; and conclusion.

Meeting the Needs of Women in California's County Justice Systems: A Toolkit for Policymakers and Practitioners cover

"This Practice Brief focuses on the benefits of establishing healthy social and civic connections through mentoring of criminal justice-involved women" (p. 3). Sections contained in this publication include: issue overview; what mentoring is; mentoring and gender; policy and legislation; the WPA (Women's Prison Association) approach to mentoring women in reentry; other mentoring programs; and challenges in implementing mentoring programs.

Mentoring Women in Reentry Cover

The toolkit provides effective culturally responsive practices for prevention programs supporting Latina youth who are at risk of placement in juvenile detention including recommendations, action steps for each recommendation, and targeted resources. Each recommendation and the corresponding action steps are included in a checklist that prevention programs can use to support direct practice, programming, and system changes (p. 4).


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