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Working With Battered Women in Jail: A Manual for Community-Based Battered Women's Advocates

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2009
80 pages
This manual motivates and guides community-based battered women's advocates in the use of thoughtful and strategic ways of working with jailed battered women.
Battered women in jail need help in healing from their abuse as well as from the stress and trauma of incarceration. Community-based advocates who work in community-based, non-profit organizations can be an important part of this effort. The scope of this manual includes services for women abused in a same-sex relationship as well as those in a heterosexual relationship. The manual first profiles women in jail, noting that Federal statistics indicate that 55 percent of women in jail have experienced physical or sexual abuse as adults or as children, with 68 percent of the abused women being victimized by intimate partners. Battered women in jail have indicated they need assistance with housing, concerns about their children, education, physical and mental health care, drug and alcohol treatment, and supportive counseling. The manual provides guidance on preparation for addressing the needs of jailed battered women. It pertains to how to use limited resources and awareness of attitudes in advocacy work. The manual then lists the parameters proposed by the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women for advocates in communicating with jailed battered women. These include obtaining defense counsel's consent, not talking with a prosecutor without the permission of the woman's attorney, and avoiding any conversation about the incident for which the woman was arrested. In addition, the manual addresses issues of confidentiality and the following legal issues: immigration status and advocates testifying for the defense. Other sections of the guide discuss approaches for various types of advocacy work, such as individual, group, or systems advocacy. Practical guidance for identifying, approaching, and meeting the various needs of jailed battered women are discussed. 34 notes