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Ten reasons for a gender-specific approach to criminal justice policy (USA)

30th July 2012

The National Resource Centre for Justice Involved Women (USA) has published 'Ten truths that matter when working with justice involved women'. Although incarceration in the United States remains largely exceptional, much of the evidence in relation to female offenders is relevant to penal policy and female offenders in Ireland. The shared 'truths' include: 

  • Women are a fast-growing criminal justice population, yet they pose a lower public safety risk than men. 
  • Traditional criminal justice policies and practices have largely been developed through the lens of managing men, not women.
  • Custodial sanctions are particularly challenging for imprisoned mothers and their children.

Irish context: The numbers of women being sent to prison are increasing more dramatically than menSince 2007, there has been a 64% increase in the number of women being sent to prison each year (1155 women sent to prison in 2007; in 2011, 1902 women). Although male committals to prison also rose, they did so by 40%. The Dochas Centre female prison in the Mountjoy campus consistently operates over its capacity. In November 2011, it was housing 50% more women than it had bed capacity for.

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