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Expert and Offender Perceptions of Program Elements Linked to Successful Outcomes for Incarcerated Women

NCJ Number
Crime and Delinquency Volume: 43 Issue: 4 Dated: (October 1997) Pages: 512-532
Date Published
21 pages

This article summarizes findings from a national study on promising correctional programs for women offenders.


The study used a four-tier sampling design to collect information on the opinions of several types of corrections experts and program participants. The experts on correctional programs for women were administrators in State departments of corrections, administrators of prisons for women, and directors of correctional programs in both institutions and community settings. The treatment foci mentioned most often by directors of promising programs were substance abuse education (54.8 percent) and substance abuse treatment (46.8 percent). Parenting (43.5 percent) and life skills (41.9 percent) were also mentioned frequently, followed by emphases on relationships (37.1 percent) and basic education (24.2 percent). These program emphases are consistent with those identified in the literature on the needs of women offenders. Program characteristics that experts identified as predictive of positive outcomes included staff characteristics and individualized programming. Differences in perceptions of elements that contributed to successful outcomes were also found among respondents. State-level administrators attributed program success to methods of program operations; whereas, prison administrators attributed success to treatments that address multiple treatment needs. Findings are relevant to program design, program implementation, and the generation of hypotheses that link program elements to outcomes. 4 tables, 12 notes, and 42 references

Date Published: January 1, 1997