This article describes research and programs funded by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that have addressed issues related to the corrections management of female offenders.
The typical view of female offenders is that they compose a relatively small percentage of the criminal justice population and commit minor offenses; however, the number of female offenders is increasing more rapidly than that of male offenders. Also, the rate at which females are being convicted of serious crimes is increasing faster than that of men. During the past several years, NIJ has sponsored research that has brought together researchers and practitioners in the areas of law enforcement, corrections, substance abuse, and violence against women. Experts from these disciplines have examined issues associated with female offending. In the substance abuse arena, NIJ's Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program has been a long-standing and well-recognized research effort. This program tracks trends in the prevalence and types of drug use among booked arrestees in 35 jurisdictions. Data on female offenders' drug use can be obtained from ADAM data. NIJ funding of evaluations of residential substance abuse programs have also focused on women offenders. Other NIJ-funded research related to women offenders has addressed female participation in gangs, the link between the violent victimization of girls and women and their subsequent offending, effective correctional programs and reentry strategies for female offenders, and how families and communities contribute to the delinquent behavior and expression of depressive symptoms in girls.