LaTosha Traylor and Beth Richie
This article focuses on the steadily increasing number of females being admitted in corrections. It emphasizes the need for gender-based programs inside and outside prisons, and observes that drug offenses seem to be the main reason for the increase of female inmates. Most of these women have experienced physical—and even sexual—abuse, which makes treatment even more challenging. This article identifies some new programs that can address the needs of female inmates, particularly mothers and their children.
Randolph R. Myers and Sara Wakefield
This essay reviews ways in which gender influences the pathway into prison, structures the lived realities of the punishment experience, and shapes the consequences of a prison stay once released. It focuses on gender in the context of the prison boom in the United States and, to a lesser extent, Europe. While women still comprise a relatively small portion of the total prison population, the rate of increase in women’s imprisonment has been much larger than that of men. These rates of confinement for men and women are put in context through a discussion of how the politics of mass imprisonment—a shift aimed largely at minority males—drove up the rates of incarceration for both men and women. The essay uses rehabilitative programming and prison violence as salient examples of how gender structures the lived reality of prison life. It concludes by discussing some of the challenges associated with “gender-sensitive” rehabilitative programming and the policy implications suggested by this review.
Devon L. L. Polaschek and Kristina M. Blackwood
This essay considers the challenges associated with managing and treating sex offenders within the prison setting. What is known from scientific research about the most effective approaches to treating sex offenders is reviewed, followed by the major rehabilitation theories. The role of assessment with sex offenders (e.g., interviews, composite risk and need assessments for both sexual and general recidivism, penile plethysmography) as well as the challenges and limitations of conducting assessments with incarcerated sex offenders are also discussed. The various approaches to sex offender treatment are critiqued, including physiological strategies, behavioral strategies, cognitive strategies, and relapse prevention. Each phase of treatment (preparation, addressing criminogenic needs, planning for the future) is considered separately, and directions for future research are considered.
Emily M. Wright and Calli M. Cain
This essay provides some of the general profiles of female inmates across the United States and how they differ from those for male inmates. The unique problems faced by women in prisons that can interfere with their adaptation to confinement (e.g., pregnancies, recent births, separation from children) are described. How histories of physical and sexual abuse can impact institutional adjustment is also discussed in conjunction with a review of “gender-responsive” programs and why some programs should not be used for both men and women. Possible reasons for the rising incarceration rates of women are also considered. Prison administrators should consider making changes to their policies, management styles, and programming or service provisions in order to better respond to women’s unique needs. The future of gender-responsiveness in corrections will likely entail an expanded recognition of gender-responsive needs and, eventually, the implementation of a wide range of services across all correctional systems.
This article summarizes what is known today about women's imprisonment while being mindful of the historical and social backdrop. Section I discusses the changing patterns of imprisonment of women and men in the United States. Section II considers trends cross-nationally. Section III discusses women's experiences as prisoners. Section IV discusses important areas for future research and policy.