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Www.sccjr.ac.uk Michele Burman University of Glasgow Clinical Forum: Prison. SPS College Polmont, 26 th March 2013 Women in Crime.

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Presentation on theme: "Www.sccjr.ac.uk Michele Burman University of Glasgow Clinical Forum: Prison. SPS College Polmont, 26 th March 2013 Women in Crime."— Presentation transcript:

1 Michele Burman University of Glasgow Clinical Forum: Prison. SPS College Polmont, 26 th March 2013 Women in Crime

2 Overview Patterns of female offending –The picture in Scotland – ‘The Drivers of Female Imprisonment’ Characteristics of female offenders, particularly those who are incarcerated Challenges of working with women who are in the criminal justice system

3 Universal truths about female offenders I Commit (much) less crime than men –in Scotland, account for approx 18 % of crimes and offences overall) (& approx 13% of crime by under 21yr olds) Outnumbered by men in all major crime categories –Lower involvement in serious violence, criminal damage and professional crime Women tend to commit a different range of offences from men Typically relatively minor offences –More likely to commit more acquisitive offences and property-related offences than anything else –32% of women arrested in E and W in 2005/06 were for theft and handling stolen goods

4 Universal truths about female offenders II Pose less ‘risk’ to public Fewer previous convictions ‘Criminal careers’ shorter, truncated –Onset of offending = 13 males, 14 females –Peak age of offending = 18 for males, 15 for females –By age 17, males outnumber female offenders by ratio of 3:1 Rate of persistence lower than males Desistance a marked feature see: Burman, 2004; Gelsthorpe and Sharpe, 2006; 2009; McIvor,2004; Sheehan et al 2007

5 Routes into offending Financial Pressures –The feminisation of poverty Addictions –Especially substance misuse) Emotional pressures/coercions (often from partners) –Prostitution; Dealing; Consumer pressures (often from dependents) Gaining respect from peers Risk-taking/excitement –Especially for young women (‘having a laugh’) (see, Batchelor, 2007; Burman and Batchelor Malloch 2004; Chesney Lind and Pasko 2004)

6 International Picture Rates of female offending fairly constant Numbers convicted have not increased But numbers directly sentenced to imprisonment and remanded into custody have increased dramatically In many countries, incl. Australia, Barbados, Bolivia, Colombia, England and Wales, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, and USA, the female prison population has increased at a faster rate than the male prison population ( Walmsley, 2012)

7 Women and prison in Scotland Longstanding policy concern Unsuccessful attempts to reduce female prison population –A Safer Way (1998); A Better Way (2002) Creation of more prison beds for women..... ‘Dismal and depressing’ HMIP reports..... Increasing policy concern about consequences –overcrowding –ineffectiveness of short sentences –damaging effects of imprisonment on women and their families Commission on Women Offenders

8 The Drivers of Female Imprisonment average daily female prison population 8% to 468 Females currently constitute 6% of prison population –Feb 2001 = 230 (3.8%); May 2006 = 365; June 2010 = 435 Since 2000, female imprisonment shown sharpest rate of growth –almost doubled - comparative increase amongst male population of 25% –average daily women’s prison population 106% ( Scottish Government, 2011 ) Increases in direct sentence and remand –number of women remanded to custody almost doubled from to (from 1,176 to 2,338) –only around 30% of women on remand go on to receive a custodial sentence (see, McIvor and Burman, 2011)

9 Average daily female population in penal establishments by type of custody Growing daily female prison population (210  413 ) Sentenced (156  280) Remand (54  133)

10 Female direct sentenced receptions by length of sentence Increasing length of custodial sentence imposed 228 days  271 days

11 Female Prison population by sentence length: to

12 Key conclusions from 10yr review No evidence that more women are coming into contact with the criminal justice system No evidence that women are committing more serious offences Courts are increasingly likely to imprison women for a range of offences and for a longer sentence length Increased punitiveness most evident in relation to ‘older‘ age groups (30 years +) Continuing upward trend …….

13 Reasons for increased imprisonment? increased number of (older) repeat offenders increase as result of efficiency changes to the courts/ CJS –e.g. increased sentencing powers, bail and legal aid reforms Risk/needs confusions –gendered perceptions of women’s ‘needs’ and the way that this can work against some women as well as in their favour increased unemployment and marginalization of women reflection of wider social problems (alcohol/drugs) ‘rolling back’ of welfare state provisions prison as ‘social service’ community sanctions seen as ‘inappropriate’

14 Characteristics of females in prison Limited life opportunities –social exclusion –lack of support –absence of relationships –family breakdown –limited education/work skills Financially constrained –poverty –care responsibilities –accommodation needs Childhood experiences of institutional care Backgrounds of abuse –sexual and violent victimisation –risky sexual lives Health difficulties –poor physical health –addictions (drugs and alcohol) –mental health –self- harming

15 Health needs assessment see: Plugge et al 2006, Univ of Oxford Women in custody 5 x more likely to have a mental health concern than women in general population 78% exhibiting psychological disturbance on reception, –compared with 15% for general adult female population. 58% had used drugs daily in the six months before prison 75% had taken an illicit drug in those six months. –crack cocaine, heroin, cannabis and benziodiazepines most widely used drugs 42% drank alcohol in excess of government guidelines prior to imprisonment. – Comparable figure for general adult female population is 22%

16 Self harm – the norm? High levels of self-harm Persistent and severe self- mutilation Stems from deep-rooted and long-term complex life experiences –E.g. violence, sexual victimisation and lack of care Implications for prison staff –E.g. lack of training; lack of understanding of motivation for harming See, Plugge et al 2006; Corston 2007)

17 Mothers and Children Appropriate and adequate provisions? Contact? Health care? Loss of children? Effects of separation? (see Murray and. Farrington. 2008; Convery and Moore, 2011)

18 Complex life circumstances High rates of mental illness Backgrounds of victimisation Self harm Aggressive tendencies Learning difficulties /disabilities Suicide risk (esp. young women) Run aways ……….Highlights need for gender sensitive approaches

19 Young Women: the Forgotten Few?

20 Health needs assessment for young women in YOIs (Plugge, 2008) 41% had been adopted or in foster care 9 out of 10 had left education by age 17 71% had some level of psychiatric disturbance over one-third (36%) had self-harmed the last month most (82%) had used illegal drugs in previous 6mths  26% had ˂ 3 sexual partners in past year (15% used condoms)  23%had been diagnosed with an STI and 1 in 10 had been paid for sex

21 Bangkok Rules “Alternative ways of managing women who commit offences, such as diversionary measures and pre trial and sentencing alternatives, shall be implemented wherever appropriate and possible” (Rule 58) Need for services/resources that are : –community-based –gender sensitive –trauma-informed –designed to meet women’s diverse needs

22 Imprisonment, human rights, social justice Prison systems and prison regimes are almost invariably designed for the majority male prison population –from the architecture of prisons, to security procedures, to facilities for healthcare, family contact, work and training. Prisons tend not to meet the needs of women prisoners, and women in prison are affected by imprisonment in a particularly harsh way. Concerns to maintain the legitimacy of the CJS, reduce imprisonment for both women (and men), respond to women’s distinctive needs + support children of imprisoned parents at the same time

23 What Works for Women and Girls ? What works for women doesn’t necessarily work for men Age and gender sensitivity Holistic approach Address complexity Flexible Practical life skills Motivated, trained staff Focus on building relationships Mentoring Trauma-informed Positive pathways out of offending Strengths-based see, Batchelor & Burman, 2004;; McIvor 2004; Carlen, 2001; Chesney-Lind et al, 2001; Gelsthorpe, Sharp and Roberts 2007).

24 In conclusion ….. Growing numbers ….. Risks posed relatively slight …. Multiplicity of need …. Social realities from which young female offenders come and to which they will return ….. Can prisons ever be suitable places for the vulnerable women who are placed there?

25 References Batchelor, S. ( 2005) 2005) 'Prove me the bam!': victimization and agency in the lives of young women who commit violent offences. Probation Journal, 52 (4) Burman, M. and Batchelor, S. ( 2009) ‘Between two stools? Responding to Young Women who Offend’ Youth Justice 9(3) Carlen, P. and Worrall, A. (2004) Analysing Women’s Imprisonment Cullompton, Devon: Willan Commission on Women Offenders ( 2012) Report of the Commission on Women Offenders Convery, U. and Moore,L (2011). ‘Children of imprisoned parents and their problems’, in P. Scharff-Smith and L. Gampell, eds. Children of imprisoned parents. Denmark: Jes Ellehauge Hansen. Corston Report ( 2007) Report of a Review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system London: Home Office Loucks, N., Malloch, M, McIvor, G. and Gelsthorpe, L. (2006) Evaluation of the 218 Centre Edinburgh Scottish Executive Malloch, M. ( 2004) ‘Women, Drug Use and the Criminal Justice System’ in G. McIvor (ed) Women who Offend London: Jessica Kingsley McIvor, G. and Burman, M. (2011) Drivers of Female Imprisonment in Scotland Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) Research Report McIvor, G. ( 2004) Women Who Offend London; Jessica Kingsley Murray, L. and. Farrington., D. (2008) ‘The Effects of Parental Imprisonment on Children’, Crime and justice: A review of research – 206.

26 References Plugge, E, Douglas N, and Fitzpatrick, R. (2006) The Health of Women in Prison; Study Findings, Department of Public Health University of Oxford Plugge, E. ( 2008) The health needs of imprisoned female juvenile offenders: the views of the young women prisoners and youth justice professionals, International Journal of Prison Health 4(2) Scottish Executive (2002) A Better Way: The Report of the Ministerial Group on Women’s. Offending. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Scottish Prisons Commission ( 2008) Scotland’s Choice Edinburgh The Scottish Prisons Commission Social Work Services and Prisons Inspectorate for Scotland (1998) Women Offenders: A Safer Way: A Review of Community Disposals and the Use of Custody for Women Offenders in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive Walmsley, R. ( 2012) World Female Imprisonment List (Women and girls in penal institutions, including pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners) 2 nd edition. International Centre for Prison Studies


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