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Addressing Trauma in Women's Prisons

NCJ Number
Corrections Today
Date Published
May 2022

This report presents the findings and methodology of a study by the Urban Institute and its partners that concluded establishing and expanding partnerships between correctional facilities and local, community-based organizations can help incarcerated women in healing, recovery, and reentry by providing comprehensive and continued trauma-informed services and support.


In 2017, researchers conducted interviews with leaders in state departments of corrections (DOCs); interviewed facility-level and community-based stakeholders, including incarcerated women; and administered a national survey to state-level domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions to determine how women’s needs are addressed in prison, as well as potential strategies for improvement. State DOCs reported providing evidence-based programs to address trauma. In addition, state DOC representatives reported that staff are trained in de-escalation techniques and method for interacting and communicating effectively with women. Although there are some noteworthy efforts to address issues related to gender or trauma for incarcerated women, researchers noted only a few state DOCs that appeared to incorporate those issues into established, standard policies, procedures, and trainings. Several incarcerated women reported that they appreciate when facility staff treat them respectfully, but many women also noted staff misconduct with minimal or no accountability. Researchers also administered an online national survey to 57 state-level domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions. Partnerships between correctional facilities and community-based providers enable incarcerated women to receive the range of services and support they need to heal from past and current trauma and victimization.

Date Published: May 1, 2022