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Needs of Women Offenders: Implications for Correctional Programming

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2003
24 pages
This study presents a description of the needs and characteristics within a sample of distinct groups of women offenders to provide an understanding and consider whether the needs are connected to a common prediction of recidivism.
The number of women under correctional supervision is rapidly increasing. Women offenders represent a unique population having characteristics and circumstances separate from their male counterparts. The increased number and unique characteristics of women offenders necessitates a careful examination of the needs of women offenders to promote effective programming and reduce the risk of re-offending. An examination of women’s needs was conducted, using a sample of 402 female felony offenders, including those thought to be criminogenic, living in the areas of Minneapolis or St. Paul, MN, or Clakamas or Marion County, OR, and entering a community corrections program or having just been released from prison, to determine whether certain groups of women possessed similar sets of needs. The findings have implications both for the use of indicators of needs to predict risk and for the nature of programming that would be helpful to different groups of women offenders. The study argues that correctional programming and more general types of organizational support, such as health care and childcare, should address women’s needs, thereby having a positive outcome in terms of reduced recidivism. A wide variety of programs are needed for the population of women offenders. It is suggested that findings be considered in the context of previous research identifying program methods with high probabilities of success for reducing recidivism and improving women’s lives. Appendix and references

Date Published: January 1, 2003