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Violence and Safety Programs in Women's Prisons and Jails: Addressing Prevention, Intervention and Treatment

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2008
11 pages
In response to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), this report describes the context and correlates that produce and support both violence and safety in women’s prisons and jails.
The data indicate that sexual violence is embedded in the broader context of violence and safety in women’s facilities and that this context is gender-based. The report concludes, however, that violence in women’s facilities is not a dominant aspect of inmates’ daily life and is shaped by time, place, prison culture, interpersonal relationships, and staff actions. There are several potential influences on violence within a correctional facility. They include poor communication and interpersonal skills, individual vulnerabilities, addictions, group association and gang affiliations, and snitching. The facility culture and physical plant also provide a context for violence. Facility factors include overcrowding, blind spots, lack of staff, minimal surveillance, mixed classifications, and locations that are susceptible to violence. It is important that programs be developed and made available to staff and inmates in addressing these issues. Effective programs will have the effect of breaking the cycle of addiction and crime. Programs that can help female inmates break these cycles focus on drug treatment and the root causes for the onset of addiction. Breaking the cycle of crime can be addressed with victim-offender reconciliation programs, restorative justice programs, mediation, and victim impact panels. A second type of program that can benefit female inmates focuses on the development and maintenance of healthy relationships while incarcerated and after leaving the institution. Other types of programs described in this report involve breaking the cycle of violence under a three-phase model, the development of work and life skills, and the creation of a system through which women can report threats and incidents that threaten their personal safety. 2 figures and 2 references

Date Published: November 1, 2008