The Council of State Governments recently published “Adopting a Gender-Responsive Approach for Women in the Justice System: A Resource Guide,” a 30-page guide for program providers in behavioral health and criminal justice to developing gender-responsive programs on behalf of the fastest growing criminal justice population: women.
Over a million female inmates are currently either in prison or jail or on community supervision, but, historically, criminal justice policies and programs are designed for men and applied to women without considering their distinct needs.
While such gender-neutral approaches can be effective in reducing recidivism for both genders, especially if they are evidence-based, research shows that implementing gender-responsive and trauma-informed policies and programs can lead to better outcomes for women, in part because they recognize that women have unique histories, pathways to offending and experiences in the criminal justice system.
Developed by The Council of State Governments Justice Center in partnership with the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women, this new resource guide offers gender-responsive approaches that address the common experiences that apply to many female offenders, including domestic violence, abuse, and victimization; family and relationships; trauma; and poverty, mental illnesses, and substance use disorders.
The approaches featured are designed to improve responses to women in the criminal justice system and can be used by program providers in behavioral health and criminal justice settings to develop their own gender-responsive programs.
The guide’s format is broken down by various aspects of gender-responsive programs, including foundational elements of programming, criminogenic risk and needs assessments, case management and program implementation. The guide also includes a list of organizations, websites, and resources that can help with program development efforts.
GEO Reentry Services offers evidence-based programming in residential and non-residential settings for justice-involved individuals. To address the unique needs of justice-involved women, GEO Reentry’s gender responsive services highlight the specific concerns and risk factors the female population faces, including type and frequency of offenses, criminogenic risk and needs, and treatment and engagement needs.
GEO Reentry gender-responsive programs and services are relational, strengths-based, holistic and culturally competent and include treatment and practices based on trauma-informed values. Our approach helps ensure that participating women can begin healing from their experiences while also meeting the conditions of their sentences so they can move toward a healthy, productive, crime-free life.