Articles

Women and Criminal Justice: Where are we Now?

Published: 23/01/2019

This paper recognises that interest and concerns about the plight of women involved in offending and the criminal justice system are not new but attention to this issue has increased internationally in recent years. This article offers a brief review of this international work historically and recently before focussing on the current position in England and Wales. The latest statistics are presented to show how the position of women and prison has changed little since the seminal Corston report of 2007 and then offers a critique of the 2018 Female Offender Strategy for England and Wales. It acknowledges that while the strategy picks up many of the themes and recommendations of Corston, the report itself is barely mentioned in the strategy and although the strategy offers much in ambition there is little in terms of immediate practical impact on the ground. While England and Wales can learn from some of the work in the rest of the UK and other countries, many of the limitations of the England and Wales strategy are also applicable to other jurisdictions.

Emotion, Time, and the Voice of Women Affected by the Criminal Justice Process: Corston and the Female Offender Strategy

Published: 23/01/2019

In 2007 Baroness Corston articulated a vision of creating a ‘distinct, radically different, visibly-led, strategic, proportionate, holistic, woman-centred, integrated approach’ with women in the criminal justice system (Corston, 2007:79). These sentiments are echoed within the Government’s Female Offender Strategy (Ministry of Justice, 2018). This article argues that the core messages from these documents have not been implemented. It argues that criminal justice processes are reducing the opportunity to work within the women’s timeframes in order to enable them to make long-term changes in lifestyle and to develop their personal capacities. The spectrum of presenting needs of women involved in crime is broad. Therefore, the focus of this paper is on the impact of domestic abuse on women, drawing on the voice of a survivor and her criminality, which occurred as a result of abuse and the attempt to escape a violent and coercively controlling partner. Using an autographical account, it is argued that limitations on time can significantly hinder individual progress, recovery and reintegration, given the experience of trauma and emotional suffering. Agency practitioners have to take time to hear women’s emotional needs, so women feel that their voices are heard in order to be connected with the process of rehabilitation. This article argues that the recommendations from the Corston report have not been implemented and that significant organisational change is necessary to assist women with multiple and complex needs to navigate a positive, non-offending lifestyle.

Community sentencing works… I’m living proof!

Published: 23/01/2019

Five years ago, Kim was expecting a jail sentence in Scotland. Instead, she was given a two-year supervision order. The judge’s decision to give Kim a ‘final chance’ was the first step towards what would ultimately become a life transformed; once beset by chaos and adversity, Kim is now a justice professional, using her lived experience to inform her work. However, a community sentence is not a silver bullet – Kim details what worked and what didn’t, and what support she had to seek out for herself. She also paints a stark picture of the obstacles that she had to overcome post-conviction, including access to education and employment as well as general attitudes towards people with convictions.

Lessons About Female Ex-offender Employment Support From a European Neighbour: Gender-responsive Multiagency Work Programmes and the use of Wage Subsidy Schemes in Sweden

Published: 23/01/2019

With over a decade having passed since the publication of the landmark Corston Report (Corston, 2007), and a new governmental Female Offender Strategy having been launched in the summer of 2018 (Ministry of Justice, 2018), it is an apt time to look forward and think both critically and creatively about future directions for women, criminal justice and reintegration. By turning the criminological gaze to a European neighbour – one that has often been described in terms of an ‘exceptional’ penal landscape – this brief article offers a case study exploration of the use of gender-responsive multiagency work programmes and wage subsidy schemes to support female ex-offenders into meaningful employment in Sweden. Following some introductory reflective thoughts on the role of gender in the ex-offender labour market entry puzzle, the structure and core ingredients of a successful multiagency work programme in Sweden will be detailed [1], drawing on qualitative interview data with both practitioners and female participants. Attention will then be directed to the use of wage subsidy schemes to support female reintegration through employment. The article will be concluded with a call for a shift in thinking towards long-term socio-economic investments in what are described as ‘structural desistance tools’, emphasising the lasting value of finding creative solutions to encourage inclusive citizenship processes that give women exiting criminal justice a fairer chance of successful reintegration.

[1]To ensure anonymity in the data, the programme will not be referred to by name.

Policy and Practice for Young Adult Women in the Criminal Justice System

Published: 23/01/2019

Women offenders are a minority group within the criminal justice system, accounting for 15% of the current probation caseload and 5% of the prison population. Women offenders differ significantly from their male counterparts and often exhibit more complex needs. Many women offenders have a background of abuse, frequently report having been victims of domestic violence and have had first-hand experience of the care system (Minson et al., 2015). This article reports on research conducted by the Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A) on young adult women in custody (Allen, 2016). The research found that the needs of young adult women in custody have not been fully analysed. Unlike young adult men, there are no specific establishments for them. There has been a focus on improving the system for young men, but little attention devoted to the needs of young adult female offenders, although it is acknowledged that female offenders might have different needs and risks. The T2A report analyses what reforms may be needed and also reports on existing good practice.

‘They only care when there’s a murder on’: Contested Perceptions of Vulnerability from Sex Workers in Prison

Published: 23/01/2019

This article is based on my doctoral research into the experience of sex workers in prison. Corston (2007) recommended that a new Reducing Reoffending Pathway 9 be implemented across the female prison estate, namely Support for Women Involved in Prostitution. The premise was that Pathway 9 would offer tailored support to women in prison who have been involved in prostitution in order to support their cycles of offending. This article will consider how women in prison who engage in commercial sex are treated within the criminal justice system and will make recommendations for best practice.

Patients or Prisoners: Implications of Overlooking Mental Health Needs of Female Offenders

Published: 23/01/2019

Since the publication of the Corston report in 2007, there has been little implementation of the recommendations for helping women in prison with mental health needs, despite research providing a better understanding of mental health requirements and a recently developed Female Offender Strategy (Ministry of Justice, 2018a). Evidence has also been brought to light in terms of offender pathways and the complex interplay between offending, mental health and other factors. Therefore, a fresh understanding of mental health among female prisoners is required, as prevalence and need in relation to this cohort is likely to have changed in the intervening years. The short prison sentences that many women are serving can be counterproductive in reducing recidivism and often exacerbate the circumstances that result in many women reoffending. To date, the recommendation of replacing women’s prisons with smaller custodial centres has only been implemented at one establishment; therefore, its impact cannot be fully determined. Evidence supporting existing interventions, including the recent liaison and diversion programme, is inconclusive due to a lack of research and inconsistent programme implementation. Therefore, a review of the Corston report (2007) and a re-evaluation of the mental health needs of women prisoners is required to support the development of a much-needed ‘new’ model of rehabilitation.

Editorial: Volume 15 Issue 1

Published: 23/01/2019

  Welcome to the re-launch of the British Journal of Community Justice. The closure of the Hallam Centre for Community Justice led to a hiatus in the production of the journal, but we are happy to report that the journal has a new home with the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) at Manchester Metropolitan University. We are grateful to PERU for hosting the journal, and to all involved in the successful transition. The re-launch also marks our move to becoming an open access on-line journal.…

Emotions Re-visited: Autoethnographic Reflections on a Qualitative PhD Thesis Using Semi-Structured Interviews. A Tale of Politicians, Professors and Ombudsmen

Published: 15/06/2016

Crewe (2014: 393) holds that ‘emotions, feelings, and subjective experiences […] shape our research interests and decisions, and their documentation, therefore, illuminates the shape and findings of our studies’. This article examines the choices made for and during one particular PhD research project - through the course of which this author interviewed out-spoken politicians, persuasive professionals and quirky professors. This is done to extend the traditional scientific writing of the published thesis to reveal those ‘bits that most readers want to know’ (Becker, 2008: 90), which - in accord with the aim of this special issue - is to allow early-stage researchers to anticipate ‘how they will “feel”’ (Jewkes, 2011: 64) during the research process and how their work may be influenced by their own subjectivity. Writing this personal reflection has opened up new self-perspectives. In inviting others to pursue these autoethnographic reflections, I hope to encourage early reflexivity and embolden others to embrace the external and internal challenges of criminological work. To this end this article concludes with a set of questions designed to assist early-stage researchers in their reflective process.

Community Justice Files 39

Published: 15/06/2016

New justice secretary Following the cabinet reshuffle by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, Liz Truss has been appointed as the new justice secretary and Lord Chancellor. There has been speculation in the press about what type of Justice Secretary she will be, following the divergent approaches of her two immediate predecessors, Michael Gove and Chris Grayling. A search of her voting record reveals that on the vast majority of issues she votes the same way as other Conservative MPs (the exception…

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