Women in Transition
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The author in this research seeks to find answers on a number of questions. The research is interested in the imprisonment of women; that many of the women in jail are serving time for non-violent crimes unlike their male counterparts. Most of these women are a disadvantaged lot. They come from poor backgrounds, have low paying jobs and some are in an abusive relationships or are staying with abusive parents. The author wants to establish whether a small community based correctional facility is indeed effective. The program is known as Women in Transition (WIT). It is a different approach in correcting behaviors of women who are accused of committing crimes.
From the public point of view, it is important to elucidate whether the correctional system is efficient because tax payer’s money is usually used in the state’s correctional expenditure. There is a need to identify programs that bring about positive results. The research questions were indeed worthy to be assessed. The author has done an extensive coverage in the reviewing of this literature. He has touched on nearly every aspect of the correctional policies and the effectiveness of the WIT program. The literature review has provided the research design with enough information on the WIT program. This program has been deemed to be an effective way of reforming criminal women in the society. When they complete the program, they become good citizens and have a lesser chance of committing crime again. All the findings that have been gathered by the author will go a long way in providing the necessary information to the correctional facilities and the government on various correctional policies. The research provides necessary information which may be used to ascertain whether the policies work for the betterment of the society, or are they worsening the situation.
One major finding of this study is that Women in Transition programs often emerge out successfully. The success rate has been approximated to be 60%. About two-thirds of the women in this study did not go back to the correctional facility after their release. It was found out that once an offender completed the program, the chances of her going back were very minimal. It was also established that most of the women who participated in the program had a positive attitude towards life. They were committed to change their behaviors so as to become non-violent members of the society. In addition, it was also established that most of the offenders with worse criminal history end up being non-recidivists after completing the Women in Transition Program. Most of the participants of the WIT program were women who were arrested due to substance abuse. Women prisons have lower rates of violent offenders such as murderers. For example, the rate of women who commit violent crimes has always been the lowest since 1976. In actual fact it was two point three per 100,000 in 2005. Some of the women served for crimes against themselves. Young female prisoners showed lower tendencies towards violence than the older ones (Mastrorilli, 2008).
Indeed, it has been found out that most women commit crimes that are mild; those that are not so violent. Most of them happen as a result of their economic and emotional struggles in life. According to Owen (1998), women criminals pose a lesser risk to the society than the men. They commit low level crimes and violations which have little impact to the society. It was established that the rate of recidivism in women was lower than that of men in this research. On the side of policies, those that have been implemented to curb crime are harsher than the criminals themselves. The increasing number of arrests being made and the policies being used showed that girls’ deviant behaviors were increasing. Consequently, this means that their behaviors are not tolerated by people such as parents, authorities, and teachers. Despite the fact that criminal women had lower violent crimes, it was noted that they received very few paroles. They were less likely to be enrolled in the home furlough program in comparison to men. The data also revealed that male offenders were released earlier from prisons as compared to the women. As such, the women served more years in prison despite the fact that they committed less violent crimes. Harsh punishment in response to the use of substance has led to higher rates in incarceration in females due to the fact that they are mostly arrested because of substance or drug abuse. It can be envisaged that the law has focused more on arresting street offenders, drug addicts and recreational drug substance users more than the real leaders of the drug enterprises. Women are the ones caught more in this law enforcement sweep. For example, the most common offense against the females in 2006 was being in possession of a substance. Their male counterparts were mostly convicted of armed robbery (Mastrorilli, 2008).
There has been a major change on how criminals are being punished by the American states and the federal government. The first set of laws targeted specific crimes such as drug related crimes. The second reform adopted sentencing guidelines and mandatory sentences. These changes emerged from the desire to reduce sentence disparities by not focusing on the offender, but rather on the offence itself. The other set of rules required the criminals to serve a greater portion of their sentences before they could be considered for parole or good time credits. This study revealed that reliance on the prison as a correctional facility is no longer working. There is need to seek alternative measures. The study also established that trauma is common within female offenders than their male counterparts. Reports show that nearly half of the women in correctional facilities have been abused in the past (Mastrorilli, 2008). This causes most of the female inmates to experience a high rate of mental disorders. It has also been noted that most of the incarcerated women experience poor health than those who are not incarcerated. This is mostly due to poverty, little access to preventive health care and poor nutrition.
The research established that most of the female offenders are mothers of young children under the age of 18. Reports show that more and more minor children are having mothers who are locked up in prison, most of who end up being stigmatized. Female offenders should not be handled the same way the males are handled. Most of the women had faced serious and damaging child abuse earlier which forced them to run away. They then resorted to petty crimes such as drug use and prostitution for their street survival. Some were involved in relationships with violent men. Most of them had been employed up to the time of their arrest. It has been found out that the effects of female crimes usually make them to continue with their defiant behaviors. The current correctional facilities seem unfit for changing female offenders. This study established that women enrolled in boot camps desperately sought for affection. In their quest they became re-introduced to criminal activities once again. When faced with abuse in their families, most of the women ran away in search of love and protection. Evidence shows that relational programming would work well with female offenders. Women population in correctional facilities is increasing at a very fast rate. This is despite the fact that their danger doesn’t increase (Mastrorilli, 2008).
According to Vesey (1997), female offenders face a lot of trauma and abuse, but it is evident that a correctional facility is not a well equipped place to address their underlying issues. When women are locked up in correctional facilities, more problems are created to the children they leave behind. The specifics of female recidivism should be put in mind so as to provide a good foundation in the studying of their criminal behaviors. This will ultimately give insight into the formulation of better policies and programs. It comes out clearly that most prisons in the U.S harbor more female offenders whose needs are profound. Policy makers should focus more on community supervision programs like parole which emphasizes more in treatment and services as opposed to supervision and surveillance. This is due to the fact that they have lower levels of acuteness, and the fact that their being behind bars deprives them both economically and socially.