National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women Newsletter
This is the third in a series of bimonthly newsletters from the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women (NRCJIW). The NRCJIW provides guidance and support to justice professionals – and promotes evidence-based, gender-responsive policies and practices – to reduce the number and improve the outcomes of women involved in the criminal justice system.
Now Available: Webinar Recording- Women Involved in the Criminal Justice System
This event, hosted by the National Reentry Resource Center, the Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project, and the National Resource Center on Justice-Involved Women, was recorded on July 12, 2012. Some key highlights from this session are detailed below.
- In their early 30s;
- Convicted of drug related crimes;
- Living in poverty;
- Disproportionately women of color;
- Mothers to minor children; and
- Victims of physical and/or sexual abuse; and
- Experiencing or have histories of substance abuse problems, health problems, and mental health issues.
(See, e.g., Bloom, Owen, and Covington, 2003).
Dr. Gehring also discussed the "Pathways Perspective" as a way to better understand how women come to be part of the criminal justice system (see http://cjinvolvedwomen.org/general-resources for more information). This perspective suggests that women enter the criminal justice system through different pathways than men, examines the lives of women prior to incarceration, and looks at how their experiences shape pathways to offending. The perspective examines in particular:
- Histories of Personal Abuse
- Mental Illness
- Substance Abuse
- Economic and Social Marginality
Building upon this more gender-specific method of understanding how and why women most frequently become involved in the justice system, Dr. Gehring and her contemporaries advocate for more gender-responsive justice responses, or those that acknowledge the realities of women's lives and how they may differ from men, including the pathways to offending and how relationships shape their lives. Such practices suggest a focus on issues including violence, trauma resulting from abuse and neglect, relationships, and substance abuse, in order to craft responses to women that are comprehensive, and to promote their long-term healing and success.
Dr. Gehring shared the results from recent research studies conducted by the University of Cincinnati in partnership with the National Institute of Corrections on the risk and need factors for women. Their research found that gender-neutral assessments, like the LSI-R and the Northpointe COMPAS, were valid for women (i.e., predicted outcomes for women accurately). However, their research also indicated that these gender-neutral assessments could be improved with the addition of a number of gender-responsive risk factors – such as depression, mental health, child abuse, housing safety, parental stress – and a number of strengths – such as family support, educational assets, and self-efficacy. Incorporating these gender-responsive risk factors and strengths into assessment tools advances our understanding of the challenges and needs faced by justice-involved women.
In sum, it was suggested during this session that gender-responsive policies, programs, and practices for women should be different from those targeted at males. That is, practitioners should recognize women's pathways to criminality; the minimal danger women generally present to society; and the importance of relationships in women's lives. In order to achieve this, successful gender-responsive policy and program implementation should minimally include:
- The adoption of gender-responsive assessment tools;
- Implementation of comprehensive case planning approaches; and
- Development and use of gender-responsive programming that target the needs of women.
Dr. Gehring provided several innovative examples of gender-responsive interventions that could be instructional for practitioners working with this population of women, including:
Beyond Trauma– (see Covington, 2003): A three module cognitive-behavioral approach for women that focuses on helping women understand, identify, and heal from trauma experience such as childhood abuse, rape, battering, and other forms of interpersonal violence.
Forever Free– (see Hall, Prendergast, Wellisch, Patten, & Cao): a modified therapeutic community for incarcerated women that stresses substance abuse treatment and relapse prevention.
Helping Women Recover – (see Covington, 1999): a cognitive-behavioral program designed to treat women who are recovering from substance abuse and psychological trauma in correctional settings.
La Bodega de la Familia– (see Shapiro & Schwartz, 2001): a model designed to reduce the recidivism of substance abusing offenders by strengthening their social support networks through family case management. While this program was not designed specifically for female offenders it incorporates many of the gender-responsive principles in its techniques.
Moving On– (see Van Dieten, 1998): a gender-responsive cognitive-behavioral approach designed to build upon existing strengths and to enhance personal and community resources available to the offender.
Seeking Safety– (see Najavits, 1996): a program designed to help substance-abusing female offenders who also suffer from PTSD attain safety and come to terms with substance abuse.
Women Offender Case Management Model– (see Orbis Partners, 2006, and National Institute of Corrections): a four-stage model designed to develop social capital by building upon strengths and developing a system of supportive resources.
To listen to the rest of the conversation on what the research tells us about women in the criminal justice system, listen to the webinar in its entirety at http://www.nationalreentryresourcecenter.org/training/webcasts.
Announcing: NRCJIW Webinar on Collaborative Case Work: Strategies and Approaches to Working Effectively with Justice Involved Women
This upcoming webinar will be convened on Monday, August 21, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET. In this session, participants will receive a brief overview of an evidence-based and gender-informed approach to case management, the National Institute of Corrections' Women Offender Case Management Model (WOCMM), as well as more in-depth information on the practical application of gender-informed approaches. Practitioners–who have expertise in implementing evidence-based and gender-informed practices with females under correctional supervision in various settings–will share their strategies and skill sets for effectively working with women on their caseloads.
To register to attend this event, click here.
Announcing: NIC Satellite/Web Broadcast on "Health, Justice, Women: Transforming Systems - Changing Lives"
Register today for NIC's Tuesday, August 15, 2012 (12-3 p.m. ET) satellite/internet broadcast "Health, Justice, Women: Transforming Systems - Changing Lives". More information and registration details, including a downloadable flyer, are available at this link.