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Self-Reports of Traumatic Events in a Random Sample of Incarcerated Women

NCJ Number
Women & Criminal Justice Volume: 16 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2005 Pages: 107-126
Date Published
20 pages

This study examined the nature, scope, and socioeconomic correlates of traumatic life events in a random sample of women entering a State correctional facility.


A review of the current literature reveals an initial look into the nature and scope of incarcerated women's traumatic life histories, but few studies have focused on the broad range of potential events. This study attempted to address the limitations of previous research by using a published, widely used, and validated measure of traumatic life events to report the nature and scope of traumatic life events in a large sample of women randomly selected from the population of women entering the Georgia Department of Corrections system. All women who entered Metro State Women's Prison between June 2000 and June 2001 were eligible to participate in the study. A sample of 403 women consented to participate in the study. Demographic data were collected along with information on homelessness trauma and victimization experiences. The data were analyzed using one-way analysis of variance models, sample t tests, and chi-squared analyses. The data revealed that 99 percent of the sample reported having experienced at least one traumatic life event while 81 percent reported five or more. While reports of several experiences differed by age, race, and marital status, the most compelling findings were related to homelessness. Women who had been homeless for at least 7 days were between 2.19 and 5.62 times more likely to have experienced 14 of 21 traumatic events, with most of these events being defined by interpersonal violence. Study limitations are discussed as well as future implications for correctional policy. Tables, references

Date Published: January 1, 2005