Professor Melynda McBride
24 November 2018
Ways of Decreasing Recidivism in Women Offenders with Substance Abuse Issues
The NSW indicates that 42.9% of the women released from prisons are likely to return
into the criminal justice system. Specifically, those women identified with substance abuse; there
is a high possibility that they will return to the system, a situation referred to as recidivism.
There has not been a designated program structured to help these women be compatible with
their community when released from prisons. It has been determined that this recurrence occurs
after an individual receives punishment for the undesirable behavior more than once.
The number of women offenders with substance abuse issues remains on the rise in
criminal justice. Research performed on the percentage of women offenders with substance
abuse issues shows that the percentage estimates at 30-60% of the female offenders ((MEARS
and BALES pp. 1131). The close relationship between substance abuse and crime increases the
percentage of recidivism in women offenders with substance abuse issues. Returning offenders
can benefit through the provision of programs like prison entrepreneur program (PEP) or proper
treatment to prevent recidivism. The prevention of recurrence collectively contributes to safer
There is a need to develop means of decreasing recidivism among women offenders
identified as drug abuse. Studies have recommended different means of reducing recidivism.
However, there is no elaborate method implemented into the criminal justice to solve this
menace. The focus of this paper is to describe the primary ways that will reduce recidivism.
Research by Rosemary Sheehan and Chris Trotter explain about the Better Pathways
strategy developed by the Victoria's Department of Justice in their book; Women's Transitions
from Prison: The Post-Release Experience (Grella and Rodriguez pp. 58 ). The percentage of
women involved in crime remains on the rise despite the massive gap between male and female
offenders. The female offenders with substance abuse issues are five percent higher compared to
previous offenders which equate to higher cases of recidivism.
The researchers Sheehan and Trotter concentrate on different programs and services like
the Better Pathways that focuses on the support needs, treatment, and accommodation of female
offenders. Pathways primary purpose is to ensure reduced the cases of repetition of offenses
while preventing substance abuse among female offenders. The transition from prison to normal
society proves challenging for most offenders. One of the significant needs for the female
offenders is the need for support after imprisonment in the community to find places to live, jobs,
and outside support systems. Women's Transitions from Prison: The Post Release Experience
provides aggregate information regarding approaches effective for reducing recidivism among
female offenders with substance abuse issues.
Research which was conducted by the criminal justice and behavior department provided
various results regarding the provision of skill programs concerning the levels of recidivism by
female offenders. The authors of the Cognitive Skills Programs for Female Offenders in the
Community research, Emma J. Palmer, Clive, R. Hollin, James McGuire, and Ruth M. Hatcher
performed analysis on a group of 801 offenders from the English and Welsh Probation Service.
The programs used included Think First and Enhanced Thinking Skills (Gallant pp45). The
quasi-experiment performed lasted a year and compared offenders who did not complete the
program to those who finished it and another group that did not receive the skills programs. The
results showed that the non-completers of the programs possessed a higher level of recidivism as
compared to the group that completed the programs.
The research revealed that no significant difference occurred between the group that
completed the program and the one that did not go through the program. The main issue
addressed by the research regarded the use of applications and their effect on recidivism. The
evidence received showed that programs actively reduce recidivism among female offenders.
The research showed that continuing care reduces recidivism. Preeta Saxena, Nena P.
Messina wrote a journal, and Christine E. Grella under Women and Criminal Justice called
“Continuing Care and Trauma in Women Offenders, Substance Use, Psychiatric Status, and SelfEfficacy Outcomes” provides insight on the importance of continuing care even after prison
(Grella and Rodriguez pp. 58). The authors performed research provided by secondary data
regarding various female offenders' treatment programs. 85 participants received continuing care
while 108 receives aftercare treatment from prison or the community. The research results
showed that women offenders with substance abuse issues recorded not only lesser rates of
recidivism but also reduced substance abuse with the help of continuing care and traumainformed attention.
The sources provided clearly show that recidivism among female offenders with
substance abuse issues can decrease with programs, continuing treatment programs, and the use
of trauma-informed attention to offenders (Mustafa and Javdani ). The lack of use of such
intervention manners might lead to the rise in levels of recidivism. However, primary research
performed in the sector contributes to the use of programs for the treatment of recurrence.
Bales (300) evaluated the approaches necessary to enhance a successful transition of
female offenders from prison environments into the society. Often, offenders would usually have
a social stigma of some kind that might make them fall to criminal activities. Successful
transition into society means that there should be enough time spent with an inmate to ensure that
there is a successful transition into society. Inmate visitation is neglected but would significantly
reduce the issue of relativism. The source used data from the Florida Department of Corrections
and tested the different hypothesis that is how visitation affects the race and even the age of
female inmates, which are the intended audiences.
The research conducted by Christine (190) there are different factors that might be
enhanced in motivation in the lives of female offenders. Female offenders are different from
male offenders, and this is primarily because as compared to male offenders, a significant
percentage of females commit less severe criminal activities. Female offenders are the intended
audiences. Motivations that have been enlisted in the source includes how it is possible to
determine how to address the different issues that affect the females, for instance, they might be
undergoing various kinds of mental problems like depression, would result into female being
unable to engage in constructive activities; addressing the mental health is a significant step in
enhancing motivations especially drug offenders.
A study conducted by the National Offender Management Service evaluated the factors
that influence women being engaged in offenses after release. It addressed different factors; it
becomes easy to prevent recidivism among female offenders. Some of the factors that have been
enlisted include mental health needs, struggling with substance abuse, fragile family contact, and
poor emotion management. The intended audiences of this are the female offender. Emotional
support is crucial can be provided in the form of providing a helping hand whenever possible for
instance through showing a helping hand whenever possible and considering female offenders as
part of the community thus enhancing access to social capital, Through enhancing access to
social capital it becomes easier to promote family support. It is also important to provide
necessary treatment for personality disorder.
Javdani (40) evaluated the link between drug abuse and criminal activities because of the
altered mental judgment of individuals. Offenders and female use different illegal drugs are not
an exception as they too use the drugs, with Marijuana leading the rank of most abused drug that
contributes to recidivism among females. Therefore, their physical health needs requirements
that if adhered to might results in recurrence as the immediate solutions to their woes. Often,
offenders especially those who were convicted with drugs related crimes, have many barriers,
which affects negatively on their physical health. They are unable to determine the different
ways in which their conditions prevent them from accessing physical health; for instance, they
might not be able to make a follow-up for their prescription refills and even other important
health records. This further has devastating impacts on their transition in their respective
Senser conducted a research to establish the necessary medical intervention as a way of
reducing recidivism. Some of the clinical interventions that are encouraged include cognitive
behavioral therapy. Often, incarceration of female offenders might result in a PTSD, which
affects the mental stability of the offender. The intended audiences to this are people with
cognitive behavior. Therefore, the cognitive behavioral recovery aims at promoting the
psychological improvement of the female offender, and this is concerned with trauma recovery
and substance abuse recovery. Furthermore, another part of the intervention is to provide support
during the incarceration period as well as after the incarceration.
Gallant (48) evaluated the contribution of sports within prisons. The study was based on
an understanding that inmates lacked an opportunity to participate in recreational activities. The
study although had a total cover of both the genders, but the results were similar across all the
genders that were studied, that is both the female and the male gender. Players are the intended
audiences. Limited study has been conducted on the impacts of recreational activities.
Recreational activities within prisons have three main aims that enhance health and wellbeing,
promote inmate rehabilitation and inmate management.
Completing this research remains of high importance. First, I intend on using interviews
and questionnaires as a manner through which I can collect appropriate first-hand information to
use as evidence in my research. The local community center contains a program involving
women offenders dealing with substance abuse issues that address the problems of causes,
effects, and preventive measures of recidivism. Conducting interviews with some of the
members of the program is the first step toward implementing interviews with my research. Also
to gather more information from the research I prepared questionnaires which would assist in
getting information. I plan to visit the women's correctional center to interview some of the
offenders who already possess the knowledge provided by treatments and programs striving at
reducing recidivism. The process of interviewing different participants ought to take two
months. Every Tuesday and Wednesday for the time frame directly goes to the community
center interviews while Mondays and Thursdays aim at correctional center interviews. For
questionnaires, it is a simple process since I wait for the members of the program to fill them.
Most women offenders with substance abuse issues do not take pride in speaking about
their pasts or wrongs performed. Therefore, the first challenge that I face is finding participants
willing to talk about their offenses to a stranger. Finding reliable and willing participants in my
research might take some time. Time is my second challenge. If my first challenge regarding
trust develops in the more significant case, then my research and process of collecting
information might take longer than expected. In addition, if my study realizes that the programs
and treatment approaches used in reducing recidivism among female offenders with substance
abuse issues possess little impact, the research findings might remain altered.
There are interventions considered that can reduce recidivism among women offenders.
First, it is important to begin treatment for mild drugs, especially between programs of custody
or hierarchical therapies that apply cognitive behavioral interventions-focused skills. The goals
of treatment suitable for criminal women overlap with male offenders. Factors that are
consistently related to the recidivism of women who may be among the inmates include
antisocial personality and problems regulating impulse control emotion and hostility, antisocial
peers, antisocial attitudes and substance abuse. The abuse of the perpetrators of abusive behavior
should be part of the strategy to reduce women's crime.
Another intervention, in this case, is, to begin with, a cognitive behavioral program that
takes into account gender and emphasizes the existing strengths, competencies and the
acquisition of new skills. This will provide women with the necessary skills to reduce the
possibility of returning to the system. For example, many criminals suggest contradiction in their
community when they are released because they lack the skills to enable them to work. As such,
these women deal with violent crimes such as the assault couple involved in alcohol abuse, crime
and the purchase of applications for heavy drug use. There is limited research conducted to
examine the effectiveness of female violence programs.
Lastly, use a gender-sensitive approach, promising in relation to gender-neutral
programs. For example, come up with a program that for instance which will focus on bettering
the lives of women so that they can reduce recidivism. Prosocial personality can allow women to
take advantage of potential abandonment opportunities. This suggests that interventions that use
motivational and solution-focused methods encourage women to seek out their meaningful
"hook" lifestyle changes that may encourage weaning. According to earlier studies, these
programs that help criminals in women are effective when focusing on high-risk offenders.
Individually focused programs, which focus only on reducing the impact of trauma, do not seem
to reduce the recidivism of women.
Women offenders with substance abuse issues record elevated levels of recidivism.
However, different approaches like programs and treatment prove that recidivism levels can
decrease and remain minimum (Gallant pp 45). The incorporation of treatment and programs to
women offenders continues to assist the offenders in and out of prison positively. Some of the
effects of such applications include the reduction in recidivism, reduction in substance abuse,
and the assistance in fitting back into the community without scrutiny, reduced trauma, and
protection from previous experiences and influence. The use of programs incorporated in prison
also benefits correctional facilities as with reduced levels of recidivism arises lower operational
and systems costs undertaken by the correctional facilities.
Mears, Daniel P., and William D. Bales. "Supermax Incarceration and Recidivism."
Criminology, vol. 47, no. 4, 2009, pp. 1131-1166.
Grella, Christine E., and Luz Rodriguez. "Motivation for Treatment Among Women Offenders
in Prison-Based Treatment and Longitudinal Outcomes Among Those Who Participate in
Community Aftercare." Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 43, no. sup1, 2011, pp. 5867.
Gallant, David, et al. "Recreation or rehabilitation? Managing sport for development programs
with prison populations." Sports Management Review, vol. 18, no. 1, 2015, pp. 45-56.
Mustafa, Rania, and Shabnam Javdani. "20181001." Journal of Muslim Mental Health, vol. 10,
no. 2, 2016.
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