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Women on Probation and Parole

A Feminist Critique of Community Programs and Services

Merry Morash

Publication Year: 2010

So far there has been very limited research on the effectiveness of gender-responsive as compared to traditional supervision of women felons on probation and parole. This volume, based on extensive longitudinal, qualitative data from probation and parole officers and from in-depth interviews with the women themselves, fills this gap.

Merry Morash has based her study on data from two counties in the same state that differed markedly in their approaches to supervision. Gender Responsive County emphasized identifying and meeting a wide range of needs unique or common to women offenders. Traditional County emphasized compliance with rules and similar treatment for women and men. Within this comparative frame, Morash discusses life issues of women offenders, including dangerous places where they live, relationships with partners and children, and reliance on a mix of criminal and prosocial support networks. She documents change and demonstrates how a dedicated and innovative team of probation and parole officers apply a gender-responsive approach to produce positive outcomes for women addicted to drugs or dependent on destructive and abusive partners.

Published by: Northeastern University Press

Series: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v

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pp. vii

Many of the data that are the basis for this book were collected with resources from Grant No. 96–IJ–CX–002, from the National Institute of Justice. That support is much appreciated, though the analysis and conclusions do...

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1: Introduction: Research Purpose and Design

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pp. 1-24

I first saw gender- responsive probation and parole services in action while on research site visits to two programs, one on the West Coast and one in the Midwest. At both sites, the female supervising officers were excited about working with women...

I: The Women on Probation and Parole

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pp. 25-60

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2: Dominant Crimes

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pp. 27-37

Cassandra, whose comment opens this chapter, recognizes that women on probation and parole are not a homogeneous group. She was repeatedly convicted for assaultive behavior, but she knows that other women who break the law are substance...

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3: Women's Characteristics by Dominant Crime Subgroup

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pp. 38-60

Women’s dominant crimes are linked to their social location — their standing in existing social arrangements that depend on gender, race, and class — as well as to their often numerous and severe troubles. More specifi cally, the women in the different dominant crime subgroups...

II: Outcomes in the Two Counties

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pp. 61-159

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4: Drug Users Who Fail

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pp. 63-84

A simple comparison shows very little difference between Traditional and Gender Responsive Counties in the proportions of substance- centered women who failed during the year. In Traditional County, 46.2 percent (61 of 132) failed, and 42.2 percent (46 of 109) failed...

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5: Supervision for Women Using Drugs but Not Failing

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pp. 85-108

This chapter focuses on substance- centered women who used drugs for at least some part of the year, but did not commit new crimes. To some degree they are making it, because at year’s end, they are not absconded or incarcerated. Like Beth...

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6: Positive Changes for Substance-Centered Women

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pp. 109-119

Despite long- standing, serious difficulties and limited resources, some substance- centered women did improve their lives and managed to avoid crime. I wanted to know exactly how they turned their lives around. Understanding the part that community...

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7: Keeping Women off Drugs

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pp. 120-131

As Jen recognizes, a new life depends on stopping drug use. Despite obstacles, some women driven by personal motivations maintain drug- free lifestyles throughout the year of supervision. Gender- responsive supervision tactics help prevent relapse...

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8: Supervision for Women without Drug Problems

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pp. 132-141

As Michelle indicates, Gender Responsive County uses a needs-based, intensive supervision approach for at least some women who are not substance-centered. This chapter addresses the questions: Do differences by county exist for all...

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9: Conclusion: Key Findings and Implications

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pp. 143-159

Women’s social location, social networks, needs, and choices all influence their outcomes at the end of their year of supervision. Additionally, gender- responsive supervision tactics promote positive outcomes. At the same time, traditional supervision...


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pp. 161-169


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pp. 171-180


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pp. 181-183

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781555537333
E-ISBN-10: 1555537332
Print-ISBN-13: 9781555537234

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law