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Women Offenders: Programming Needs and Promising Approaches, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1998
11 pages
Publication Series
This report presents the findings of a survey of State-level correctional administrators, prison and jail administrators, and program administrators to determine the special needs of incarcerated women in the areas of management, screening, assessment, and programming.
The survey also solicited information on innovative correctional programming for women and specific program elements conducive to success. All State correctional departments and at least one prison for each State were surveyed, in addition to jail administrators from 50 city/county jurisdictions. The correctional institutions selected for study represented facilities that differed in size and region of the country. This report notes that women offenders have needs different from those of men, stemming in part from their disproportionate victimization from sexual or physical abuse and their responsibility for children. They are also more likely to be addicted to drugs and to have mental illnesses. Survey respondents reported the need for classification and screening for women prisoners for needs related to children, spouse abuse, and childhood sexual abuse, according to one in four administrators. Women inmates also have a need for management styles different from those for men. Management styles for women inmates should focus on responding to expressions of emotions and communicating openly with offenders. Respondents were asked to name women's programs in their jurisdictions that have been effective, innovative, or promising. They cited 242 programs, although correctional administrators in 17 States could name no such programs. The programs cited included substance abuse programs, work training programs, child visitation, and parent education programs, along with a variety of transition, aftercare, education, and health programs. Elements deemed conducive to success in these programs included many that were gender specific. Survey respondents also cited the need for more programs that provide drug treatment and mental health services. 4 exhibits and 8 notes

Date Published: August 1, 1998